In this study, Peck, Barger, and Webb explore whether the use of haptic imagery – imaginary touching of an object – increases perceived levels of object ownership and, in turn, increases perceived levels of object valuation. The authors present evidence that haptic imagery, like physical touch, does appear to increase perceived ownership and valuation; however, the effect seems to be mostly limited to situations where one’s eyes are closed (which is hypothesized to maximize haptic vividness and, consequently, the perception of physical control – an accepted path to increased levels of perceived ownership). The relationship between haptic imagery and commonly accepted alternative paths to increased levels of perceived ownership – intimate knowledge of an object and identification with an object – are not explored. Managerially, the study, therefore, provides modest justification for the utilization of vivid product descriptions, photos, videos, etc. in settings where haptic sensory input is absent (such as e-commerce).
Peck, Joann, Victor A. Barger, and Andrea Webb, “In Search of a Surrogate for Touch: The Effect of Haptic Imagery on Perceived Ownership,” Journal of Consumer Psychology 23.2 (2013): 189-96. Accessed via JSTOR.