Full text: Semantics of ownership

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An exploratory semantic study was done to identify 
relevant criteria for the use of the concept of ownership. 
Twelve criteria were considered: Familiarity, knowledse, 
territoriality, purchase, crafting, gift, utility, 
aesthetics, history, possession, assertion, and desire. 
Subjects were 120 employed adults (60 male, 60 female). 
Bach completed a questionnaire requiring two judgement 
tasks. The first was to free recall 10 exemplars of things 
owned and 1Q of things not owned, with subsequent judgements 
of the applicability of each criterion to each of the 
exemplars. The second was to judge the merit of each 
criterion as a general argument for ownership. By the 
recall tasks, the criterion of possession was most 
consistently applicable, followed closely by assertion and 
familiarity. Cluster analysis indicated that ownership 
entails two types of criteria: social-defensive criteria 
relating the owner to non-owners and familiarity-utility 
criteria relating the owner to the objects he owns. By the 
explicit judyements, only means of acquisition (purchase, 
crafting, gift) were highly rated as criteria. The finding 
of different ratings of criteria by different judgement 
casks was consistent with semantic theory.

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