Full text: Semantics of ownership

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differences in behavior by the children in the ownership and 
control conditions. However, their follow-up questions did 
show that possession changed the children's perceptions of 
ownership. Eighty-five percent of the children in the 
ownership condition said they did not know who owned the toy 
and 5% said it was the experimenter's. Whereas, 40% of the 
control children said they did not know who owned the toy 
and 40% said it belonged to the experimenter. Even 
possession of an object by preschool children for short 
periods in an institutional setting was sufficient to 
decrease the perceived probability that the object belonged 
to the institution. 
The prominence of the Social Defensive criteria, 
however, should not overshadow the finding that ownership 
also seems to entail a characteristic of Familiarity. 
Further, Utility was valued most similarly with Familiarity, 
and these two clustered as Favored Objects criteria in one 
analysis and as Regular Acquisition criteria in another. 
Apparently, subjects had a tendency to list items they were 
familiar with and used routinely. Again, this may reflect 
the contact hypothesis (Zajonc, 1968). But much earlier, 
the philosopher Hume (1739/1962) recognized the 
Familiarity-Utility pairing and its relevance as a major 
criterion of ownership: 
such is the effect of custom that it not only 
reconciles us to anything that we have long enjoyed,

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