The Art of User Ownership Exploring the Endowment Effect in UX Design

Craig Barber
September 16, 2023
mins read

Welcome to another exciting blog post where we delve into the fascinating world of user experience UX design.

Today, we’ll explore an intriguing psychological phenomenon known as the “Endowment Effect” and how it can be applied to create engaging and intuitive user experiences.

So, grab a cup of coffee in your favourite mug and let’s dive in!

Understanding the Endowment Effect

Understanding the Endowment Effect​
Apple iPhone cases allow people to customise their phone and make it theirs

The Endowment Effect is a cognitive bias that describes our tendency to assign higher value to objects or things that we already possess compared to those we don’t.

In simpler terms, it’s the emotional attachment we develop towards items simply because they are ours.

This cognitive bias can influence decision-making, perceived value, and even affect our willingness to part with something we own.

Video explaining the Endowment Effect:

Applying the Endowment Effect to UX Design

Applying the Endowment Effect to UX Design​

As UX designers, understanding and harnessing the power of the Endowment Effect can greatly enhance the user experience.

By strategically leveraging this bias, designers can create interfaces and interactions that make users feel a sense of ownership, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction.

Personalised Profiles and Customisation

Personalised Profiles and Customisation​

One of the most effective ways to invoke the Endowment Effect in UX design is by providing users with the ability to personalise their profiles or customise their experience.

By allowing users to tailor their interface, colors, layouts, or even avatars to their preferences, they develop a stronger attachment to the product or service.

Take the example of a social media platform that allows users to choose their own profile picture and cover photo.

By enabling individuals to showcase their unique identity, they establish a sense of ownership over their online presence, which ultimately increases their loyalty and engagement with the platform.

Gamification and Virtual Rewards

Gamification and Virtual Rewards​

Gamification is another powerful tool that leverages the Endowment Effect to engage users.

By incorporating elements such as badges, points, levels, or virtual rewards, designers create a sense of achievement and ownership within the user experience.

Consider the scenario of a fitness app that rewards users with virtual badges for completing daily workouts or achieving certain milestones.

These badges symbolise progress and accomplishment, tapping into the Endowment Effect by making users feel a sense of ownership over their fitness journey.

This not only boosts motivation but also fosters a deeper connection to the app and its features.

Time and Effort Investment

Time and Effort Investment​
Investing time and effort increases usage

When users invest time, effort, or resources into a product or service, they are more likely to develop a stronger attachment to it.

UX designers can utilise this principle by creating interfaces that require users to actively engage, contribute, or customise their experience over time.

An excellent example is seen in productivity apps that encourage users to set goals, track progress, and organise tasks.

By investing time and effort into structuring their workflow and populating the app with their goals, users feel a sense of ownership and commitment, making them more likely to continue using the app and achieving their objectives.


The Endowment Effect offers valuable insights into human psychology and can significantly impact the success of UX design.

By recognising and incorporating elements that tap into this cognitive bias, designers can create interfaces and experiences that foster a sense of ownership, engagement, and loyalty among users.

Remember, as UX designers, our goal is to craft user experiences that not only meet functional requirements but also evoke positive emotions and connections.

By embracing the Endowment Effect, we can elevate our designs and create memorable experiences that users will love and keep coming back to.

So, let’s harness the power of the Endowment Effect in our UX design journeys and unlock the full potential of user engagement!

Check out more ways you can increase engagement with good UX here.

You may also like


Accessibility The Ultimate Guide for Digital Product Designers

Discover why accessibility is a crucial element in enhancing user experiences
Information architecture

The Ultimate Guide to Information Architecture for UX Designers

Take a deep dive into the world of Information Architecture and enhance your UX design toolkit
Cognitive biases

50 Cognitive Biases Every UX Designer Must Know

Discover the psychology behind user behavior and learn how cognitive biases shape the way users behave