Karl Marx's "labor theory of value" states that the value of a good depends on the amount of human labor put into it. While this is a defunct theory and incompatible with modern economics, it was hugely influential and seems to have many parallels in intuitive psychology.

For instance, luxury handbag or oriental rugs makers often emphasize that their products are "carefully handmade", implying that they should be valued for that reason, even if hand-made products, in many ways, are not better than or even inferior to machine-made products.

This intuitive idea of "labor theory of value" is, of course, even truer when evaluating things we made ourselves. Suppose I am a musician. If I spent 2 months writing piece A and only 2 days writing piece B, I will treasure piece A a lot more, even if piece B is an equally good piece of music.

Thus my questions:

  1. Is there empirical research showing that people incorporate some notion of "labor theory of value" in their intuitive understanding of value?
  2. If so, is there research showing why people think this way?
  • $\begingroup$ "hand-made products, in many ways, are not better than or even inferior to machine-made products". I can give many examples where hand-made is better than machine made. Take for example hand sewn buttons. They are much more secure. So the theory is not completely incompatible. It is just incompatible to capitalist economics (maximum profits for minimum human effort). $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Jul 19 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers I certainly agree. I'm just referring to the fact (assertion?) that there are some scenarios where people appear to prefer hand-made for the sake of being hand-made. $\endgroup$ – J Li Jul 22 at 1:22

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