Lender's Curse

Whenever I lend out a book or movie to someone, there’s only the smallest chance that they will actually read or watch it. This is pretty universal and happens with even the most conscientious friend/family lendees. I might get frustrated, weeks or months later:

“How’d you like the book?”

“Oh. I haven’t started it yet.”

Speaks volumes. Image: Emilian Robert Vicol/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Speaks volumes. Image: Emilian Robert Vicol/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

But I also know that I do the exact same thing in reverse, and I know that I have the time to check out the thing borrowed. Even a movie that I’m enthusiastic to see, once someone has lent it to me, it can sit on top of the DVD player for eons.

What is going on here? I suspect some sort of strange psychological phenomenon. I began to look up research that may have been done (which researchers are being paid for that?) but didn’t know which keywords to enter: “lend, don’t, watch, bother, read, friend”.

In the absence of any information I’m going to claim that I discovered this phenomenon. I term it ‘Lender’s Curse’, the repellent nature of a borrowed object in your possession regardless of how inviting the object may be, often to the frustration and confusion of the lender.