Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

as the authority. For both groups, dominance ratings were positively correlated with seating 
territoriality. Edney (1973) gave paper-and-pencil tests in student dormitories to matched pairs 
of residents and visitors and found residents reported themselves more resistant to control by 
others than did visitors. Edney called this “defensive control” and considered it to subsume the 
concept of dominance. In a similar experiment, Minter (1974) analyzed a questionnaire measure 
of dominance in conjunction with the reported perceptions by dormitory residents and visitors 
of one another following “get-acquainted” interactions. Subjects felt more dominant in their 
own territory, and high dominant subjects in their own territory were perceived as more pleasant 
by their visitors. 
In an interesting animal experiment equivalent to those of Edney (1973) and Minter (1974), 
Leary and Maroney (1962) found that in all possible pairings of 8 adolescent rhesus monkeys 
as hosts in their own cages and as visitors in other cages, home territory monkeys dominated 
access to food in 20 of the 28 pairings. Of importance is the finding that each of the 8 monkeys 
experienced dominance-reversal at least once. This was interpreted to mean that territorial 
change is a radical manipulation, with widespread and complex social effects. A similar 
experiment by Kummer (1973) with baboons showed that dominant males introduced into a 
subordinate male’s cage would not attempt to gain possession of the subordinate’s female. 
Again, this suggests that dominance is contextual and that territorial possession is a powerful 
sign of dominance. 
There Is, as well, a very large body of child development literature showing, and often 
presuming, that possessiveness is a manifestation of interpersonal dominance. There seems 
little doubt that young children aggressively seize and defend possessions from one another. 
Historically, this work seems to arise from two ethological traditions in child study. The earliest 
of these traditions appears in the Viennese work of Buehler (1927). She did a one-year 
observational study of the social and object relations of pairs of infants. Maudry and Nekula 
(1939) extended that work from children 6 months of age to 25 months of age and found the first 
reactions of even the youngest children tended to be towards their partner's possessions. 
Object conflicts were frequent at all ages and peaked at age 12 months, after which time 
cooperativeness and sharing began to increase. 
The Vienna approach was used by many at the University of Minnesota, including Walker 
(1929), Mengert (1931) and Dawe (1934), all of whom found very frequent attempts by

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