Clear­ing out clut­ter

Take a photo to help you throw stuff out.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living -

IF you’re a bit of a hoarder and strug­gling to de-clut­ter your home, sci­ence might have found an an­swer for you: New re­search sug­gests that sim­ply tak­ing a photo of the item you want to give away makes it eas­ier to part with it.

Car­ried out by Karen Win­terich from Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity, along with re­searchers from the Ohio State Univer­sity’s Fisher Col­lege of Busi­ness, and the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, the study arose from Win­terich’s own ex­pe­ri­ence with strug­gling to de-clut­ter old items.

“The project got started when I re­alised I was keep­ing an old pair of bas­ket­ball shorts just be­cause they re­minded me of beat­ing a ma­jor ri­val bas­ket­ball team in junior high,” Win­terich says, “I didn’t want the shorts – I wanted the mem­ory of win­ning that game and that’s what I thought of when I saw the shorts.

“A pic­ture can eas­ily mark that mem­ory for me and I can do­nate it so some­one else can use it, which is even bet­ter.”

To see if a photo could also make it eas­ier for oth­ers to part with sen­ti­men­tal items the re­searchers re­cruited 797 stu­dents at Penn State who lived in six res­i­dence halls on cam­pus.

At the end of a se­mes­ter the re­searchers ad­ver­tised that a do­na­tion drive was to take place, just be­fore stu­dents left for the hol­i­days.

How­ever, the team used two dif­fer­ent ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns in the var­i­ous res­i­dence halls to pro­mote the drive.

In the “mem­ory preser­va­tion” photo cam­paign, the signs stated, “Don’t Pack up Your Sen­ti­men­tal Clut­ter ... Just Keep a Photo of It, Then Do­nate”.

In the con­trol cam­paign, the signs said, “Don't Pack Up Your Sen­ti­men­tal Clut­ter, Just Col­lect the Items, Then Do­nate”.

Sim­i­lar num­bers of stu­dents were ex­posed to both signs.

When count­ing the do­nated items, the team found 613 items were do­nated in the halls that pro­moted the “mem­ory preser­va­tion” cam­paign, and only 533 in the con­trol cam­paign.

The re­searchers be­lieve that peo­ple were more will­ing to give away items with sen­ti­men­tal value if they took a photo to pre­serve the me­mories, which is what peo­ple re­ally want to hold on to.

The team also found in re­lated ex­per­i­ments that not only me­mories but also iden­ti­ties were linked to items and pre­vented peo­ple from do­nat­ing them.

In one study, peo­ple who were do­nat­ing old items at a lo­cal thrift shop were given in­stant pho­tos of the items they were do­nat­ing, while oth­ers were not.

They were then asked about whether they would feel a loss of iden­tity from giv­ing away the items, with the re­sults show­ing that those who re­ceived the pho­tos re­ported less iden­tity loss than those who did not.

Study coau­thor Re­becca Reczek notes that the photo tac­tic won’t

work for items with­out sen­ti­men­tal value or items that peo­ple want to sell in­stead of do­nate.

She also com­ments that, “It may not work for some­thing that has a lot of sen­ti­men­tal value, like a wed­ding dress”.

How­ever, Win­terich adds that by us­ing the photo method, “We hope

that it will not only make it eas­ier for peo­ple to clear out clut­ter, but it will also help spur the do­na­tion process, ben­e­fit­ing non­prof­its and the re­cip­i­ents that they serve”.

The re­sults were pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Mar­ket­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s Jour­nal Of Mar­ket­ing. — AFP Relaxnews


If you can’t bear to part with it but it ab­so­lutely needs to go – take a pic­ture of it and let it go, says the lat­est re­search into clut­ter.

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