This paper first reviews material dealing with the question of whether possession and related behaviours are innately determined or secondary. It is considered that the significance of property-related behaviour can best be understood by reference to its ontogenesis, and to the social context, and to the intentions of the actor. Some relevant material is reviewed, and it is proposed that some forms of acquisition and possession of property may be limited to societies with a high degree of role flexibility and mobility and have to do with the building and maintenance of self-respect.