When is a claim of ownership legitimate? Bernadette Kamleitner in conversation with Joann Peck

Ownership is a fundamental concept to human beings. We all have a natural desire to own things, whether they are physical objects, ideas, or experiences. But can we experience ownership for public places, digital data, or even our spouse? When is a claim of ownership legitimate? As part of the opening of the POP Library at the WU Vienna, Bernadette Kamleitner and Joann Peck explored these questions, revealing fascinating insights about the science of ownership.

While legal ownership is crucial in many contexts, such as property rights and intellectual property, our emotional attachment to things often goes beyond legal ownership. We can feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for things that we do not legally own, such as a public park or a shared cultural tradition. This distinction between legal and psychological ownership is particularly relevant in the digital age. Our digital identities are a reflection of who we are, and the data we generate is a record of our lives. As such, do we have a sense of ownership over our data? And can we feel a stronger sense of ownership for some things than for others?

Bernadette Kamleitner and Joann Peck discuss the role of ownership in society and our most valuable possessions. Find out more about the science of ownership in the video below.

Why is the topic of ownership worth studying?

The concepts of possession, ownership and property play a fundamental role for human behaviour, social interactions and economic transactions. There are numerous resources from various disciplines dealing with exciting and surprising findings on ownership, which are now bundled and curated in the new special POP collection.

To get a first impression of the physical side of the POP (Possession, Ownership & Property) collection and to find out why world-leading experts (Floyd Rudmin, Russ Belk, Ori Friedman, Michael Heller, Jennifer Inauen, Carey Morewedge, Joann Peck, Jon Pierce, and Federico Rossano) think that ownership is an interesting topic to study and what research finding on the issue surprised them the most watch this video.

May we introduce: Joann Peck

“I am surprised that [psychological ownership] did not make it into the marketing and consumer psychology literature until recently. There are so many ways that it is applicable from product acquisition, to use, to disposition. As a field, we are just beginning to tap into it.”

After a number of amazing guest posts and news about a variety of ownership workshops, symposia and events, we are really happy to be back with a well-deserved addition to our Featured section. More specifically, we are delighted to introduce Joann Peck to you and show you what she has to say about her relationship with the phenomenon that we call psychological ownership.


Joann is currently engaged in a triple role as an Associate Professor of Marketing, Associate Dean of the Undergraduate program as well as Interim Director of the MBA Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her research, she mainly focuses on psychological ownership and how it relates to haptics, i.e. the sense of touch. Beyond PO and touch, she is currently working on a plethora of exciting new projects, which she briefly touches on in the interview.If you are just as curious as we are about what Joann is up to next and how she sees the field evolving, you should definitely not miss this interview. For the full interview simply follow us this way.