A Surprising Post Given That I Don't Even Own an Armchair

At an earlier post, commenter ajb complained about "how effin' rare" music by the Honolulu Mountain Daffodils is. My guess is that if he found an album of theirs tomorrow, he would value that album more than if he could just have bought it on Amazon.

More generally, it seems that we value things that are hard to get more than those that are easy to get - all other things equal, of course. If that is correct, it's weird because there is a well-documented effect that appears to be the opposite of that: the endowment effect. This is the term for the fact that once we own something, we will value it more than before.

What's going on? First of all, I think there is a curvilinear relationship between availability and attractiveness: Those things that would be easily available but which we don't own are the least attractive - again, all other things equal. I think there are two different evolutionary processes at work which ultimately have the same aim.

1. Hard-to-get things are attractive because attaining goals that are hard to attain signals high value as a mate.

2. The endowment effect exists because it is beneficial to see oneself in a positive light - and thinking one has made a good decision is one aspect of that. This tendency exists because the more one believes something, the easier it is for one to present it as true. And presenting oneself credibly in a positive light, again, presents one as an attractive mate.

Boy, it doesn't get any more speculative than that, but, hey, this is a blogpost, not an academic paper.

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