That's Not Yours!

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Science  21 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6054, pp. 291
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6054.291-b

Much ink has been spilled in arguments about what it is that children have learned when they begin to grasp the possibility that other people's beliefs can differ from their own. But what do children comprehend of other people's rights, such as the ownership of property? Rossano et al. describe experimental results indicating that 3-year-old children exhibit a more sophisticated understanding of the rights conferred by ownership—in this instance, the disposal of a cap or scarf—than 2-year-olds. Children of both ages complained when their own hat was thrown away by a puppet, and they did not protest when the puppet threw away his own article of clothing; the key distinction was that older kids registered a normative objection when the puppet discarded a hat belonging to a third party (the experimenter). In their introduction to an edited collection, Friedman and Ross enumerate the reasons why research on the developmental origins of ownership will yield findings of interest.

Cognition 121, 219 (2011); New Dir. Child Adolesc. Dev. 132, 1 (2011).

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