Study: Concept of property rights may come naturally to preschoolersBy Bruce Bower
Jun. 23, 2011
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WASHINGTON ó Young children are possessed by possessions. Preschoolers argue about what belongs to whom with annoying regularity, a habit that might suggest limited appreciation of what it means to own something.
But itís actually just the opposite, psychologist Ori Friedman of the University of Waterloo in Canada reported on May 28 at the Association for Psychological Science annual meeting. At ages 4 and 5, youngsters value a personís ownership rights ó say, to a crayon ó far more strongly than adults do, Friedman and psychology graduate student Karen Neary found.
Rather than being learned from parents, a concept of property rights may automatically grow out of 2- to 3-year-oldsí ideas about bodily rights, such as assuming that another person canít touch or control oneís body for no reason, Friedman proposed.