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This study examined the nature of possession and ownership in a developmental and cross-cultural context. It was an exploratory study attempting to map out the various dimensions of the meaning of possession, and the motivation for possessive behaviour. An open-ended interview was administered to (a) 150 American subjects, 30 at each of five age levels (kindergarten, second, fifth, and eleventh grades, and 40- to 50-year-old adults), and (b) 120 Israeli subjects, 60 from the kibbutz and 60 from the city (in each case, 30 of kindergarten age and 30 of fifth-grade age). A content analysis was performed on the interview responses. The resulting dimensions of the meaning of possession and of the motivation for possession are presented, and the relative saliencies of these dimensions for the different age and cultural groups are discussed. Of particular importance to all ages and cultural groups were the two dimensions of (a) effectance and control of possessions, and (b) positive affect for possessions. A large number of other dimensions were also obtained, often differing in their relative importance at different ages. It is hoped that the results will lay the foundations for subsequent empirical work on this topic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1978

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