This paper discusses the psychological states associated with various theories of property. Many theories view property from the psychological perspective of the owner, describing how property enables an owner to create or present a self to the world, to enjoy a zone of liberty, to acquire the confidence to participate in politics or economic activities, among other matters. This paper, however, takes particular interest in the psychological states associated with the non-owner — the person who confronts the property of others. Some theorists have described property as a “hawk/dove” or “chicken” game, in which the non-owner takes a dove role, implicitly from fear. This paper argues, however, that the non-owner’s respect for property cannot be explained adequately by fear. Respect for the property of others emerges as a somewhat mysterious psychological state from the point of view of rational actors, but it is nevertheless critical for supporting the institution of property.
Rose, Carol M., Psychologies of Property (and Why Property is Not a Hawk-Dove Game) (March 31, 2013). The Philosophical Foundations of Property Law, J. E. Penner and H. E. Smith, eds., Oxford University Press, 2013; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 13-20.