Ori Friedman, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo; Julia W. Van de Vondervoort; Margaret A. Defeyter, Department of Psychology, Northumbria University; Karen R. Neary, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo. Research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Ori Friedman.
First Possession, History, and Young Children's Ownership Judgments
Article first published online: 8 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Child Development © 2013 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 84, Issue 5, pages 1519–1525, September/October 2013
How to Cite
Friedman, O., Van de Vondervoort, J. W., Defeyter, M. A. and Neary, K. R. (2013), First Possession, History, and Young Children's Ownership Judgments. Child Development, 84: 1519–1525. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12080
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 8 MAR 2013
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
It is impossible to perceive who owns an object; this must be inferred. One way that children make such inferences is through a first possession bias—when two agents each use an object, children judge the object belongs to the one who used it first. Two experiments show that this bias does not result from children directly inferring ownership from first possession; the experiments instead support an alternative account according to which the first possession bias reflects children's historical reasoning. In Experiment 1, eighty-five 3- to 5-year-olds only based inferences on first possession when it was informative about the past. In Experiment 2, thirty-two 5-year-olds based ownership judgments on testimony about past contact, while disregarding testimony about future contact.