ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (12): 2153-2160.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.02153

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Preschoolers’ understanding of ownership rights

LI Zhanxing1, NIU Gengfeng1, YU Feng1(), ZHU Liqi2()   

  1. 1. Institute of Social Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710049, China;
    2. CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2018-01-02 Online:2018-12-15 Published:2018-10-30
  • Contact: Feng YU,Liqi ZHU;


To own an object means that the owner has many informative rights to the object, such as touching, using, changing, tracking and transferring. Research revealed that 3-year-old children understand that an owner have exclusive rights to touch and use his/her own objects but others do not, but their understandings of owners’ rights to change, track and transfer property are relatively poorer. This indicates that the development of children’s representation of ownership rights may not be synchronous. Three-year- olds understand that an owner has right to entitle others to use his/her property, and actively maintain this. When someone prevents the enforcement of this right, they will protest. This demonstrates that young children are aware of second-order ownership rights. In future studies, the mechanisms underlying the dissociation among representations of different ownership rights should be explored. Besides, it is worthwhile investigating how children represent ownership rights of public property (such as buses). Different cultures may put different weight on specific ownership right, which calls for more cross-cultural studies.

Key words: ownership right, tripartite account of ownership right, multi-dimensional account of ownership right, second-order entitlements

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