The research was supported by NICHD Grant HD-36043 to Gelman. We are grateful to the children and parents who participated in the research. We thank Alex Was, Amanda Markowitz, and Jaime Bortnick for their assistance.
The Nonobvious Basis of Ownership: Preschool Children Trace the History and Value of Owned Objects
Article first published online: 20 JUN 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 83, Issue 5, pages 1732–1747, September/October 2012
How to Cite
Gelman, S. A., Manczak, E. M. and Noles, N. S. (2012), The Nonobvious Basis of Ownership: Preschool Children Trace the History and Value of Owned Objects. Child Development, 83: 1732–1747. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01806.x
- Issue published online: 11 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 20 JUN 2012
For adults, ownership is nonobvious: (a) determining ownership depends more on an object’s history than on perceptual cues, and (b) ownership confers special value on an object (“endowment effect”). This study examined these concepts in preschoolers (2.0–4.4) and adults (n = 112). Participants saw toy sets in which 1 toy was designated as the participant’s and 1 as the researcher’s. Toys were then scrambled and participants were asked to identify their toy and the researcher’s toy. By 3 years of age, participants used object history to determine ownership and identified even undesirable toys as their own. Furthermore, participants at all ages showed an endowment effect (greater liking of items designated as their own). Thus, even 2-year-olds appreciate the nonobvious basis of ownership.