Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

organization. Although Aristotle (Barker, 1952) claimed that owning entails instinctive pleasures 
of seif-love and benevolence, it was again not until the seventeenth century that Hobbes 
(1650/1839) and Malebranche (1674/1963) described instinctive passions of superiority over 
others as being manifest in the acquisition of property. Others in this tradition were Kant 
(1798/1974), Stewart (1820), Schneider (1880), and Freud (1930). The salience of interpersonal 
dominance motives in possessiveness led child psychologists (e.g. Isaacs, 1933; Lattke, 1935) 
as well as psychiatrists (e.g. Adler, 1927/1968; Horney, 1937) to criticize the instinct theory of 
property. However, ethologists (e.g. Ardrey, 1966; Strayer & Strayer, 1976), child psychologists 
(e.g. Buehler, 1927; Furby, 1980), and social psychologists (e.g. Edney, 1974) came to describe 
property as a manifestation of innate tendencies for dominance hierarchies and territorial 
The third historically extant explanation of property is that the possession and ownership 
of property are prerequisites for altruistic sharing. Although this began with Aristotle (Barker, 
1952), the place of dominance motivation in possession and sharing was not articulated until the 
nineteenth century (e.g. Nietzsche, 1885/1973; Wundt, 1901). Child development research has 
focused on possession and sharing as manifestations or strategies of leadership dominance 
(e.g. Charlesworth & LaFreniere, 1983; Camras, 1984; Furby, 1978c; Merec, 1949). 
The fourth historically extant explanation of property is that it is based on knowing. The 
domination of others by means of possession based on knowing was first described by Aristotle 
(Barker, 1952) in his justification of slavery and later developed by Nietzsche (1885/1973), Sartre 
(1943/1956) and Eigen (1973). In a more cognitive vain, Titchener (1911) and Laborit (1978) have 
described how familiarity can lead to defensive, territorial behavior. 
The fifth psychological explanation of property apparent in historical review is that 
property serves communicative functions, especially that of displaying superior status. Again, 
Aristotle (Barker, 1952) may have first suggested this, but it was not until the seventeenth 
century that Malebranche (1674/1963) explicitly theorized that a reputation of having property 
ieads to control over others. Those in the social economic tradition such as Adam Smith 
(Riesman, 1976), Spencer (1879/1893), and Veblen (1899/1912) argued that property serves to 
synilbaizs and display prestige and social dominance. Research in achievement motivation 
(e.g. Jackson, Ahmed & Heaps, 1976; McClelland, 1975) has shown small but positive 
correlations between status and proprietary traits. Consumer psychologists (e.g. Belk, 1985a,b)

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