Muriel calls on Leonard in his notoriously overstuffed office.
Muriel: Er, was it ever tidy?
Leonard: Thirty years ago. I had no papers and no books then.
Muriel: Throw them out. Throw some out.
Leonard: I can’t. I’m worried I’ll lose something useful I grew up in hard times you know.
Muriel: Wouldn’t be that you have a fascination for print, would it?
Leonard: You mean, I’m obsessed by the power of the printed word?
Muriel: And you can’t let it go. Another facet of the endowment effect.
The endowment effect, first proposed by Richard Thaler, is the idea that people value something more once they own it than something they do not yet own.
Although studies of the endowment effect have focused on objects, and the psychology of behavior in financial matters, it may be time to investigate which academics are prone to feathering their nests with printed matter.