Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

numbers of individuals in communities selected to extend the range of, to “manipulate”, the 
cultural variables of interest (Berry, 1983). The details of the methods used for these three types 
of studies will be presented in the method sections of the three separate studies which follow. 
However, one further issue concerns the type of people and and the types of tasks to be 
sampled (Lonner & Berry, 1986). The historical review indicates that most empirical 
psychological research on property and ownership has used captive subject populations (e.0. 
school children, hospital and prison inmates, caged animals, and residential students) and has 
employed research methods amenable to such populations (e.g. observation, and experimental 
manipulation). Although such research has obvious practical and logistic advantages, it has 
at least three failings. First, there is little inductive validity for generalization to “normal” 
non-captive populations. Second, the interpretations of such studies are based on inferences 
about people's motivations, intentions, and conceptualizations rather than on direct reports of 
them. Third, when part of the hypothesis under study concerns dominance, it is unreasonable 
to place people In the role of “subject” which invariably entalis non-dominant status, frequently 
in an alien territory. 
Therefore, the thesis design includes the intention to complement the existing literature 
by using self-reports by non-captive adults given in relatively familiar “home” territory. Within 
psychology, the most common reliable method of self-report for adults is the questionnaire 
scale, Particularly amenable to the topic of ownership are scales of motivational traits. Also 
amenable to the topic are psycholinguistic methods. 
The psycholinguistic research on property concepts was not introduced in the history of 
the topic because most of it has been done for purposes of studying research methodologies 
and semantic processes rather than for studying property concepts per se. For example, Heider 
(1946; 1958) included the ownership relationship in his discussion of cognitive balance, arguing 
that ownership was a triadic relationship between two people and an object, with “liking” and 
“belonging” being the mechanisms of positive unit formation. Thus, if person P dislikes person 
X, there will be a tendency for P to dislike objects that belong to X. Miller and Johnson-Laird 
(1976), in thelr book on componential semantic theory, included a long section on “Verbs of 
Possession”, which began thus: 
The inherent possession of property is an unequivocally social concept. Ask a layman what 
is meant by “property” and he is likely to reply that it is in the last resort a legal notion, a 
matter for the courts to decide. In fact, however, it is a good deal more fundamental than 
that, and a good deal more relevant to psychology. Our society revolves around property,

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