Here’s why people are so obsessed with their idol’s belongings

March 9th, 2011 - 6:18 pm ICT by ANI  

New York, Mar 9 (ANI): Replica of a 1948 Gibson guitar, once played by Eric Clapton, is likely to fetch a 20,000 dollars in an auction but the original was sold for one million dollars. Now, social scientists tell you why value of the object falls dramatically if it’s not the original one.

After conducting experiments and interviewing guitar players and collectors, social scientists have analyzed ‘celebrity contagion’ and ‘imitative magic,’ not to mention ‘a dynamic cyclical model of fetishization appropriate to an age of mass-production.’

The Yale team found that a sweater owned by a popular celebrity became more valuable to people if they learned it had actually been worn by their idol, reports the New York Times.

But if the sweater had subsequently been cleaned and sterilized, it seemed less valuable to the fans, apparently because the celebrity’s essence had somehow been removed.

“Our results suggest that physical contact with a celebrity boosts the value of an object, so people will pay extra for a guitar that Eric Clapton played, or even held in his hands,” said Paul Bloom, who did the experiments at Yale along with George E. Newman and Gil Diesendruck.

However, the replica’s appeal is related to another form of thinking called the law of similarity said Newman.

That is a belief in what is also called imitative magic: things that resemble each other have similar powers.

“Cultural practices such as burning voodoo dolls to harm one’s enemies are consistent with a belief in the law of similarity. An identical Clapton guitar replica with all of the dents and scratches may serve as such a close proxy to Clapton’s original guitar that it is in some way confused for the real thing. Of course, the replica is worth far less than the actual guitar that he played, but it still appears to be getting a significant amount of value for its similarity,” said Newman.

“Consumers use contagious and imitative magic to imbue replica instruments with power. Semiotically signified magical thinking causes replicas to radiate aura and thus transforms them into fetishes,” said the authors.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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