Young Children Think Differently about Ownership

Research shows that young children tend to think that naturally occurring objects like pinecones or rocks cannot be owned.

By Christie Nicholson

MINE! That word appears early in life. Toddlers have an idea of ownership. They also have an idea of what can be owned, and what can’t.

Children as young as three believe human-made objects are owned but naturally occurring things like pinecones are not.

In one experiment 3-year olds looked at pictures of a fork, teddy bear, truck, and other human-made objects. They also looked at pictures of a leaf, shell, or rock. The researchers asked: Does this belong to anyone?

The kids classified human-made objects as owned 89 percent of the time and naturally occurring objects as owned only 28 percent of the time.

In another experiment scientists tested children with less familiar objects like a grenade versus coral. This time children under 6 did not tend to name the manufactured object as owned. But when the unfamiliar, artificial objects were referred to as “human-made,” the younger children tended to classify them as owned. The work appears in the journal Developmental Psychology. (pdf)

It is apparently only much later in life, when individuals have reached a seasoned maturity, that they can conceive of ownership of natural objects. “You kids get off of my lawn!”

Scientific America

We know which children we’d prefer to have in our lives.

It’s interesting that nobody factors into this equation how the children arrived at the word, mine? You can often see children referring to their parents. “This is mine, isn’t it?” or “That’s my one?” and some parents never extend the conversation to yes but . . .Adults raise children, teach them the merits or non merits of sharing and the children unquestioningly take on their parents sensibilities. More of the same then, for the rest of humanites time on this planet? No emotional growth just this continual unsavory element to human behaviour. Let’s place this into an adult perspective. A friend of ours was at a friends (A) recently at and was extremely thirsty. The friends (A) spouse walked in with a big bottle of water. The guest asked if the water was for sharing and could it be opened? The friend (A) asked her spouse ” This water’s for me right, mine?” and then proceeded to fill a glass with tap water for her guest, LOL. This scenario is neither wrong or right as we do not know what (A’s) motivation for this was. It’s just to illustrate that perhaps the world we all desire may stay an aspiration a little while longer.

Thank you for you time and interest. Please feel free to share, like, and comment.



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