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The development of sentimentality towards objects

   Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences

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  Dr Gill Waters  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

People often place value on ‘authentic’ objects - objects that have a link to history, or a famous person, or a loved one. For example, we visit museums to look at historical objects; we collect objects associated with ‘famous’ people; we value objects given to us by family who have now passed away (Fazier & Gelman, 2009). Authentic objects are valued not because of their external appearance, but because they have this invisible connection with someone or something (Fraizer et al. ,2009). For example, a piece of jewellery belonging to one’s grandmother is valued more than an identical replacement because of sentimental feelings attached to it. Some people seem to be more likely to be sentimental about objects than others. For example, adults who owned a ‘security’ or ‘comfort’ object (e.g. blanket or teddy) as an infant have more intense feelings about objects owned by a family member or someone close (Frazier et al., 2009). It is arguable, therefore, that our early emotional experiences may influence our later sentimentality about objects. Our temperament and personality may also be involved in our feelings about objects. The importance we place on authentic objects may also affect our attitudes towards materialism and idealism. It is also possible that extreme feelings about objects may be linked to mental ill health, particularly disorders relating to obsession, hoarding, or compulsive spending.

This PhD research topic will expand upon a strand of Dr Gill Waters’ existing research to focus on the development of sentimental feelings towards objects. The links between sentimentality in adolescence and adulthood and security objects in infancy will be investigated, along with the development of attitudes towards sentimentality and materialism during childhood. New knowledge will be generated to expand the existing knowledge base and track the development of these emotional attachments to objects over time. The outcomes will lay the foundations for larger-scale future research in this area.


Frazier, B. N., & Gelman, S. A. (2009). Developmental Changes in Judgments of Authentic Objects. Cognitive Development, 24(3), 284–292.
Frazier, B. N., Gelman, S. A., Wilson, A., & Hood, B. (2009). Picasso Paintings, Moon Rocks, and Hand-Written Beatles Lyrics: Adults’ Evaluations of Authentic Objects. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 9(1-2), 1–14.
Hood, B. M., & Bloom, P. (2008). Children prefer certain individuals over perfect duplicates. Cognition, 106, 455-462.
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