Symposium: Ownership as a Psychological Phenomenon – ICAP 2014



When: July 08 – July 13, 2014

Where: International Congress of Applied Psychology 2014 (ICAP), Paris, France



Who & What:

  • Session Chairs
    Stephan Dickert – Vienna University of Economics & Business
    Bernadette Kamleitner – Vienna University of Economics & Business
  • The Psychological State of Ownership: A Review of the Current Literature
    Jon L. Pierce* – University of Minnesota Dulith, Minnesota, USA
  • Young Children’s Understanding of Relations between Ownership and Emotions
    Ori Friedman* – University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
    Madison Pesowski
  • Having, Holding, Being: The Relevance of Graspability for the Self-Extension Function of Symbolic Objects and Their Symbolized Meanings
    Philipp Scharfenberger* – University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
    Daniel Wentzel
    Luk Warlop
    Torsten Tomczak
  • From Tragedy to Benefit of the Commons: Increasing Shared Psychological Ownership
    Suzanne Shu – UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
    Joann Peck* – Wisconsin School of Business, Madison, USA
  • What (not) to offer: exploring the influence of different types of incentives in crowdfunding projects on perceived ownership and intended behavior
    Carina Thürridl* – Vienna University of Economics & Business
    Bernadette Kamleitner



Ownership is a concept that touches on several aspects of economic behavior. For example, every economic transaction also involves transfer of ownership. Many disciplines have investigated ownership, its psychological underpinnings, and its consequences. Topics covered range from endowment effects to psychological ownership in employment contexts and feelings of ownership instigated by marketing measures. Importantly, ownership is both a legal as well as a psychological concept. People can feel ownership for something that they do not legally own (e.g., their office furniture or rental apartment). At the same time, people sometimes do not feel as owners for something that legally belongs to them (e.g., cars they do not use, or owned apartment rented to someone else). Moreover, people might feel shared responsibility for objects regardless of the legal ownership status (e.g., the responsibility to keep the city clean). The concept of ownership is not limited to tangible goods (that can be traded), but extends to intangible goods such as ideas, copyrights, or the goodwill of others. What unites these different streams of literature is that they converge on the pivotal role of ownership in shaping a wide range of economic behaviors.


In the symposium, which was held on July 13, 2014 at the ICAP in Paris, France, top scholars of the field presented both theoretical and empirical contributions to the precursors and effects of psychological ownership. The presentations reflected a multidisciplinary approach to the study of ownership. They included a review of the current literature on the psychological state of ownership (Jon Pierce), the developmental perspective on ownership and its relation to emotions (Ori Friedman & Madison Pesowski), how graspability influences self-extension and perceptions of ownership (Scharfenberger & colleagues), the role of shared ownership on resource valuation (Suzanne Shu & Joann Peck), and the role of psychological ownership as a trigger of success in digital, intangible crowdfunding markets  (Thürridl). The symposium was closed by a discussion (by Bernadette Kamleitner) of the main points of each presentation, a synopsis of the current state of research on psychological ownership, and an outlook for future research on this interdisciplinary topic.

Immediately after the symposium, Sophie Süssenbach, PhD candidate and research associate at the Institute for Marketing & Consumer Research, touched on the topic of ownership once more. In the course of the subsequent “Consumer Behavior” track she presented several studies on „Investigating the antecedents of psychological ownership: empirical evidence for the impact of control“.



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s