Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

its ownership, its exchange, its inheritance; one of the profound political questions of the 
age is the determination of what ought to be within the category of private property. The 
concept is so widely embracing of and embraced by linguistic usage and habitual ways of 
thinking that it is difficult to see it in perspective. (Miller & Johnson-Laird, 1976, pp. 558-559) 
They go on to argue, 
Since property is a social notion, and presumably dependent on conventions made 
possible by the existence of language, the two problems [of the origins of property 
behaviors and the origins of language] may indeed be related. (Miller & Johnson-Laird, 
1976, p. 561) 
Although Miller and Johnson-Laird (1976) argue that it is reasonable to study the psychology of 
property by means of psycholinguistic methods, their own work is purely theoretical. 
However, at least three studies have generated psycholinguistic similarity data on verbs 
of possession. Rapoport and Fillenbaum (1972) used similarity judgements of 29 have verbs 
done by two card sorting tasks in order to compare techniques of multidimensional scaling and 
cluster analysis. Takane (1980) used card-sort similarity judgements on the same 29 verbs in 
order to demonstrate a new clustering algorithm. Wagener and Pohl (1986) used card sorting 
data on the same 29 verbs in German to provide empirical support for componential semantic 
theory. Gentner (1974; 1975) also used verbs of possession in semantic memory confusion 
studies to support componential semantic theory. Stillings (1975) used verbs of possession to 
make a case for a semantic theory based on meaning rules. Only the present author’s own 
earlier work:(Rudmin, 1983; Rudmin & Berry, 1987) has used a psycholinguistic method 
(free-recall) with the intention of studying the semantics of ownership. The present thesis 
might be considered a continuation of that earlier effort and will also make use of 
psycholinguistic methods.

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