Yours or mine? Ownership and memory

Sheila J. Cunningham*, David J. Turk, Lynda M. Macdonald, C. Neil Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Citations (Scopus)


An important function of the self is to identify external objects that are potentially personally relevant. We suggest that such objects may be identified through mere ownership. Extant research suggests that encoding information in a self-relevant context enhances memory (the so-called 'self-reference effect'), thus an experiment was designed to test the impact of ownership on memory performance. Participants either moved or observed the movement of picture cards into two baskets; one of which belonged to self and one which belonged to another participant. A subsequent recognition test revealed that there was a significant memory advantage for objects that were owned by self. Acting on items (i.e., moving them) had no impact on memory. Results are discussed with reference to the importance of self-object associations in cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date31 May 2007
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Self
  • Ownership
  • Memory
  • Social cognition


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