Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

(e.g. Bosanquet, 1895; Locke, 1690/1952), property allowed a private realm for self-development 
and autonomy. Hume (1739/1962) and Titchener (1911), on the other hand, saw private property 
as a means of maintaining the cognitive comfort that comes with a familiar and stable 
environment. For Veblen (1899/1912), property was a means of achieving social recognition and 
expressing status. William James (1890) argued that property was an extension of the Self. 
Such explanations of property as these, diverse in origins and as often convergent as I 
should be subject to empirical psychological examination. 
This study used a survey questionnaire composed of four sections. [See Appendix B.] The 
front page was a consent form asking the participants “to help in a social psychological study 
of values and concepts related to ownership”. The consent form explained that participation 
was voluntary, that anonymity would be assured, and that a brief summary of the findings would 
be made available. Space was provided for demographic information on age and sex. 
The second section was a psycholinguistic examination of the meaning of the verb “own” 
in relation to 24 other verbs of ownership and possession. Respondents were asked to 
“estimate how much the meaning of the verb OWN is related to the meaning of each of these 
other verbs”. The similarity ratings were done on a six-point scale, from 1 (not related) to 6 
(closely related). The 24 comparison verbs were: save, cherish, buy, hide, possess, deserve, 
manage, be familiar with, share, plan, wa, use, keep, like, be given, protect, have, claim, 
control, be used to, lend, make, desire, need. These 24 verbs were taken from a companion 
cross-cultural research project (Rudmin, 1988a). They were selected because they covered a 
range of concepts pertaining to ownership and because they had translation equivalents in 
Cree, Japanese, and Hindi which were other languages under consideration. 
The third section of the questionnaire was Belk's (1984; 1985) scale of materialism. He 
defined materialism as: . 
...the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions. At the highest levels of 
materialism, such possessions assume a central place in a person’s life and are believed 
to provide the greatest sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. (Belk, 1984, p.291) 
Although other psychological measures of traits of possessiveness and materialism appear in 
the literature (Beloff, 1957; Campbell, 1977; Jackson, Ahmed & Heapy, 1976; Moschis & Churchill, 
1978; Schoben, 1949; Shorr, 1953), only Belk (1984; 1985a) has provided theoretical and

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