Letting go of stuff can be hard, especially when it’s your personal possessions. Unless they’re broken, it can be difficult to get rid of certain things.
If you’re struggling with clutter, whatever the reason, something called the ‘endowment effect’ could help. In basic terms, it’s all about how much emotional attachment you have to that item.
One question to ask yourself when dealing with clutter is: Is my emotional attachment clouding my judgement? The endowment effect describes how much emotional value we put on something just because we own it, even if we have no use for it any more.
According to Psychology Today, a 1991 experiment is a prime example of this effect. In the experiment, three groups of students were asked to sell, buy or predict a fair price for coffee mugs.
Students who owned the mugs and were asked to part with them valued them higher than those who were buying or predicting the price. The theory behind this is that we invest in objects emotionally, which affects our judgement.
As a result of this, it’s theorised that our judgement on whether we actually need something and what it’s actually worth to us becomes biased, causing us to hold onto things we don’t need and that are simply taking up space.
If you want to combat this, psychologists recommend playing a three-step game which should trick the brain into revealing how much they actually need.
First of all, take a look around and decide how much you’d sell each item for. Once you’ve written it all down, ask yourself how much you’d actually pay for the same object.
If you find yourself willing to sell an object for a higher price than you’d personally pay for it, then it turns out you’re adding extra emotional value to it and it’s probably indicating that you don’t really need it lying around.
This technique is definitely worth considering if you’re planning a big clear out, you might be surprised how much you’re willing to get rid of.