Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

correlated with own having more of a meaning of stewardship. The positive relationship of 
Abasement with the pro-social qualities of stewardship suggests that abasement might be less 
pejoratively labelled, for example, as self-sacrificing. 
Materialism also seems to resuit in own having more of a meaning of dominion. But this 
was a part of a complex of relationships, hinged apparently on the strong link between 
Materialism and Defendence. Defendence predicts that own tends to mean claim. Materialism’s 
relation to Defendence seems to rest on nongenerous persons being defendent, and also being 
non-nurturant and non-affiliative. Materialism typically is a focus on the relationship of 
individuals to their personal possessions, and in this study, materialistic individuals did report 
own to have more of a meaning of possess and cherish. Nevertheless, there is evidence that 
materialism may be motivated by interpersonal considerations of self-defensiveness and 
perhaps dominance of others. Titchener (1911) and Horney (1937) both argued that property 
served defensive functions and Mead (1982) argued that materialism is essentially a hostile 
social orientation. 
This study does support the hypothesis that ownership is a social relationship, not just a 
relationship between the person and his or her possessions. People motivated towards 
dominance and power over others see ownership in some smail measure in terms of dominion. 
In a competitive, hierarchical social system, such as our own, it wouid seem that socially 
responsible owning, meaning sharing and caring, is for the abased. People motivated towards 
defensiveness and separation from others also see ownership more in terms of dominion, but 
for materialistic reasons of claiming and possessing cherished objects. Thus, social affiliation 
can be disrupted for selfish, power motivations and for selfish, defensive motivations. Altman 
and Haythorn (1967) found that differences in Dominance and Affiliation traits in paired isolated 
subjects increased territorial behavior. 
To return to the origins of the discussion, it seems that Pythagoras was on the right track. 
He suggested two hypotheses about property and both found support in this study. First, 
ownership as dominion is a concomitant of reduced appreciation of social affiliation. Second, 
males are less generous than females, which was also a finding of Eisenberg-Berg, Bartlett and 
Haake (1983) and McClelland (1975). In confirmation of the views of Aristotle and the 
Scholastics, owning as stewardship appears to serve social affiliation. Ownership as 
attachment supports the cognitive theory expressed by Hume, Titchener and others. Finally, the

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