Fixing others' property: Young children make exceptions to property rights when violations benefit owners
MetadataShow full item record
Property rights serve to protect owners, and to prevent them from being deprived or inconvenienced. However, perhaps modifying others’ property will be acceptable if we improve it, or modify it for the owner’s benefit. I conducted five experiments (total N = 480) to examine how young children view improving others’ property without asking. Children were shown a story with two characters, one of whom owned a broken object and then left for a minute. I then asked about the other character manipulating the broken object in a variety of ways. In Experiment 1, 3-5-year-olds said it was good to fix the broken object, but bad to move it. In Experiments 2 & 3, 4-6-year-olds found it more acceptable to fix and replace broken property than to look at or move it. Experiment 4 showed the same pattern of results as Experiment 3, and the relationship between owner and actor did not matter. Finally, in Experiment 5 children again found it more permissible to fix property than to manipulate the object through other actions. They judged actions with objective improvements (i.e., fixing) more acceptable than subjective ones (i.e., painting preferred colour), suggesting improvement type matters. These findings are the first to show that children make exceptions to ownership rights when the owner is objectively benefitted.
Cite this version of the work
Emily Stonehouse (2019). Fixing others' property: Young children make exceptions to property rights when violations benefit owners. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14983