Psychological Sense of Ownership: from Disorders to Norm

(Iryna Hubeladze)

Institute for Social and Political Psychology of National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine

Introduction. Psychological sense of ownership is feeling that something is yours. It is a basic of individual and collective self-determination. Ownership is considered as a social and psychological phenomenon, which is based on the basic instinctive need of property, whose satisfaction is closely related to the formation of the individual and the functioning of the group consciousness; psychological attribute of personality, which distinguishes it from among others; the basis for categorization and differentiation, which is possible only in social interaction (Karnyshev, 2006; Pipes, 2007; Khazratova, 2009). Person spread his/her Self to everything that at least to some extent belongs to his/her, what he/she can entitle as "mine".

A lot of scholars argue that feeling of ownership is one of the most important factor of individual attitudes, motivation, and behavior (Pierce, Kostova & Driks, 2001; Friedman, 2010; Smirnova & Sukhanova, 2014). Psychological ownership determines self-identity, self-adjustment, and well-being (Khazratova, 2009) as well as ownership of tangible (e.g., home, things) and intangible (e.g., ideas) objects (Pierce, Kostova & Driks, 2001).

Purpose. The purpose of this paper is to provide the information on normal manifestation and disorders in psychological property. We suggest that some of these types of behavior depend on peculiarities of certain people understanding and feeling of ownership.

The feeling of property implies the need to give away, not only material resources, but also their time, care, emotions. Caring for the objects of his property (about a house, his own business, a pet or a houseplant) and developing them in a certain way, the person assumes responsibility for their condition, protection and further fate. A sense of responsibility, in turn, prompts a person to determine the priorities of his activity, to a better self-organization and a rational distribution of his forces and time. It contributes to the formation of a more developed value system, which, in addition to meeting their own needs and desires, is also focused on helping others, caring for them. At the same time, the sense of responsibility gives the feeling of its own significance and the necessity of other people, which increases self-esteem and belief in oneself and encourages further development, to new achievements. Life becomes more conscious and purposeful.

In norms psychological ownership is a basic for personal identity forming. It includes relations between person and thing, person and other person on this thing, person’s attitudes towards himself. But more than 75% people identified property as a main source of their stress.

In abnormal form it may be realize as an aggressiveness and conflict about possession of the thing, worries about their status and belongingness. It can manifest in many ways, including chronic resentment, embitterment, hostility, hatred, temper tantrums, rage attacks, and frequently, verbal and physical abuse.

According to Karnyshev A., there are some types of owners but two of them are disordered. Both hoarding and squander are in opposite sides from normal ownership behavior (Karnyshev, 2006). As a psychological disorder they have an ongoing dysfunctional pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior that causes significant distress, and that is considered deviant in that person’s culture or society (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2007). Like medical problems, they have both biological as well as environmental nature.

Unusual behavior based on ownership characterized certain mental health conditions such as compulsive hoarding (Steketee & Frost, 2003; Preston, Muroff, & Wengrovitz, 2009) and kleptomania. It is also true for criminal activities, such as shoplifting, robbery, and vandalism. The ritual of shopping provides a temporary escape from worry and anxiety.

Hoarding disorder is a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive acquisition of and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior may has risks for health, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members. Compulsive hoarders may be aware of their irrational behavior, but the emotional attachment to the hoarded objects far exceeds the motive to discard the items. Hoarding is more common in people with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This disorder can make significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important spheres including maintaining a safe environment for self and others.

The most useful and successful method for overcoming compulsive hoarding is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It should be discovered why person is compelled to hoard. Learning to organize possessions in order to decide what to discard and develop decision-making skills are very useful. Also person should gain and perform relaxation skills. Attending family and/or group therapy is desirable.

Squandering is common for people who need to satisfy everything their needs and desires, not limiting themselves. As usual they are people who became the owners at the result receiving inheritance or “lucky ones". Self-esteem of these people depends on awareness their opportunities advertise and show their consistency. Psychological source of such behavior is low self-esteem and need to be appreciated, noticed, and approved.

Practical/Social value. Understanding the reasons of psychological ownership formation their normal manifestation and disorders will have influence on social practices of people, possibilities to foresee and correct their behavioral patterns.

Conclusions. Psychological ownership can make normal and abnormal manifestation in social practice of people. It depends on both biological and social sources. Psychological feeling of ownership determines personal peculiarities and behavioral patterns which can express in different social practices.

Keywords: sense of ownership, psychology of ownership, disorders, norms, compulsive hoarding, squandering


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