Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

Roos (1968) studied the personal control and power that territoriality gives crew members on a 
warship, and observed that crew members in their own personalized work-station territories 
would display behavioral dominance over intruding officers who in fact had superior rank. 
Esser, Chamberlain, Chapple and Kline (1965) reported that mental patients who were more 
dominant used larger and more central territories of the ward than those who were less 
dominant. Esser (1968) replicated this with a group of hospitalized children. In 1970, Esser 
defined the territory of mental patients by occupancy duration and reported that those few 
patients who had territory won 85% of attempts at physical dominance within their territory and 
55% of those outside their territory. Paluck and Esser (1971) studied the use of aggression by 
retarded boys in playroom settings and concluded that territoriality reduces social and 
cognitive complexity and enhances personal control. In a final study by Esser (1973) of 
institutionalized boys, territory holders were found to have higher dominance ranking than those 
without territories. 
Sundstrom and Altman (1974) examined the relationship of territoriality and dominance in 
a study of male delinquents in a residential institution. They found dominance and the 
possession of territory to have positive correlations in the first three observation periods, but 
to be nonsignificant in the fourth, even though dominance ranks were stable across all four 
periods. Although Sundstrum and Altman (1974) and Edney (1974) leave this unexplained, it may 
be, as in Levine's (1983) study of preschoolers, that possessiveness establishes self-identity 
and relative social rank among strangers and can be omitted once relationships stabilize. In an 
earlier study by Altman and Haythorn (1967), sailors wars experimentally paired for differences 
in personality traits, including dominance, and observed for 10 days of isolation together in a 
single room. Incompatibility on dominance and affiliation traits resulted in a high rate of 
territorial behavior compared to matched controls who were not isolated. Finally, in a study not 
in Edney’s (1974) review, Austin and Bates (1974) found that dominant prison inmates confined 
to a prison bullpen camp had more possessions and more territorial control than less dominant 
Other studies have shown territoriality and dominance to be related. Delong (1970) 
studied seating arrangements and leadership qualities of students in a 16-week seminar and 
found two sub-groups. Those seating themselves to the student leader's right saw the student 
jeader as the dominant authority, while those seating themselves to the teacher's right saw him

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