Children’s Beliefs about Ownership

This study seeks to understand how children’s beliefs about object ownership unfold over time. Artifacts are a frequent part of daily human life, and an important aspect of how we interact with artifacts concerns ownership norms. Based on ethnographic observation, however, anthropologists report significant cross-cultural variation in ownership norms. This project aims to provide systematic data concerning ownership norms of both adults in children across a range of cultures. Participants will be presented with vignettes where an individual is described as having purchased or received an artifact as a gift and a second individual uses, modifies, or keeps that artifact, under various conditions. Participants will be asked to evaluate the behavior of the second individual in these various conditions. If your child participates in this study we will read him/her six stories about one person using an object that belongs to a different person, and then ask a series of five questions about each story. If your child does not want to participate he/she may return to class at any time. If you have any questions about the research, you can contact Bailey House at 413-883-6658 or, or Joan Silk at