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Concept: Ownership


Stress responses within dyads are modulated by interactions such as mutual emotional support and conflict. We investigated dyadic psychobiological factors influencing intra-individual cortisol variability in response to different challenging situations by testing 132 owners and their dogs in a laboratory setting. Salivary cortisol was measured and questionnaires were used to assess owner and dog personality as well as owners' social attitudes towards the dog and towards other humans. We calculated the individual coefficient of variance of cortisol (iCV = sd/mean*100) over the different test situations as a parameter representing individual variability of cortisol concentration. We hypothesized that high cortisol variability indicates efficient and adaptive coping and a balanced individual and dyadic social performance. Female owners of male dogs had lower iCV than all other owner gender-dog sex combinations (F = 14.194, p<0.001), whereas owner Agreeableness (NEO-FFI) scaled positively with owner iCV (F = 4.981, p = 0.028). Dogs of owners high in Neuroticism (NEO-FFI) and of owners who were insecure-ambivalently attached to their dogs (FERT), had low iCV (F = 4.290, p = 0.041 and F = 5.948, p = 0.016), as had dogs of owners with human-directed separation anxiety (RSQ) or dogs of owners with a strong desire of independence (RSQ) (F = 7.661, p = 0.007 and F = 9.192, p = 0.003). We suggest that both owner and dog social characteristics influence dyadic cortisol variability, with the human partner being more influential than the dog. Our results support systemic approaches (i.e. considering the social context) in science and in counselling.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Human, Male, Sex, Cortisol, Dog, Ownership


Free-roaming cats are exposed to a variety of risks, including involvement in road traffic accidents. One way of mitigating these risks is to contain cats, for example using an electronic boundary fence system that delivers an electric ‘correction’ via a collar if a cat ignores a warning cue and attempts to cross the boundary. However, concerns have been expressed over the welfare impact of such systems. Our aim was to determine if long-term exposure to an electronic containment system was associated with reduced cat welfare. We compared 46 owned domestic cats: 23 cats that had been contained by an electronic containment system for more than 12 months (AF group); and 23 cats with no containment system that were able to roam more widely (C group). We assessed the cats' behavioural responses and welfare via four behavioural tests (unfamiliar person test; novel object test; sudden noise test; cognitive bias test) and an owner questionnaire. In the unfamiliar person test, C group lip-licked more than the AF group, whilst the AF group looked at, explored and interacted more with the unfamiliar person than C group. In the novel object test, the AF group looked at and explored the object more than C group. No significant differences were found between AF and C groups for the sudden noise or cognitive bias tests. Regarding the questionnaire, C group owners thought their cats showed more irritable behaviour and AF owners thought that their cats toileted inappropriately more often than C owners. Overall, AF cats were less neophobic than C cats and there was no evidence of significant differences between the populations in general affective state. These findings indicate that an electronic boundary fence with clear pre-warning cues does not impair the long term quality of life of cats.

Concepts: Psychology, Critical thinking, Cognition, Tram accident, Term, Cat, Ownership, Cats


People often judge it unacceptable to directly harm a person, even when this is necessary to produce an overall positive outcome, such as saving five other lives. We demonstrate that similar judgments arise when people consider damage to owned objects. In two experiments, participants considered dilemmas where saving five inanimate objects required destroying one. Participants judged this unacceptable when it required violating another’s ownership rights, but not otherwise. They also judged that sacrificing another’s object was less acceptable as a means than as a side-effect; judgments did not depend on whether property damage involved personal force. These findings inform theories of moral decision-making. They show that utilitarian judgment can be decreased without physical harm to persons, and without personal force. The findings also show that the distinction between means and side-effects influences the acceptability of damaging objects, and that ownership impacts utilitarian moral judgment.

Concepts: Person, Personality psychology, Choice, Property, Ownership, Animal rights, Judgment, People


Two experiments examined children’s understanding of how ownership affects object use. In Experiment 1, 84 children age 4-6 were asked what a person was allowed to do with a human-made object that either belonged to the person or belonged to someone else. In Experiment 2, 44 children age 4-5 were asked what a person was allowed to do with a natural object that belonged to the person, belonged to someone else, or belonged to no one. Children were permitted to provide as many responses as they wished. Children’s responses reflected an appreciation that ownership affects a wide range of object uses, including harmless object use. Children’s responses also reflected an appreciation that owner’s rights should be upheld regardless of whether the owner’s identity is known, or whether the owner is nearby. Moreover, children’s responses suggest that they view ownership as restricting nonowners from using property, rather than affecting use by entitling owners. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Property, All rights reserved, Ownership, Ownership society, Legal terms, Possession, Exclusive right


A central feature of our consciousness is the experience of the self as a unified entity residing in a physical body, termed bodily self-consciousness. This phenomenon includes aspects such as the sense of owning a body (also known as body ownership) and has been suggested to arise from the integration of sensory signals from the body. Several studies have shown that temporally synchronous tactile stimulation of the real body and visual stimulation of a fake or virtual body can induce changes in bodily self-consciousness, typically resulting in a sense of illusory ownership over the fake body. The present study assessed the effect of anatomical congruency of visuo-tactile stimulation on bodily self-consciousness. A virtual body was presented and temporally synchronous visuo-tactile stroking was applied simultaneously to the participants' body and to the virtual body. We manipulated the anatomical locations of the visuo-tactile stroking (i.e., on the back, on the leg), resulting in congruent stroking (stroking was felt and seen on the back or the leg) or incongruent stroking (i.e., stroking was felt on the leg and seen on the back). We measured self-identification with the virtual body and self-location as well as skin temperature. Illusory self-identification with the avatar as well as changes in self-location were experienced in the congruent stroking conditions. Participants showed a decrease in skin temperature across several body locations during congruent stimulation. These data establish that the full-body illusion (FBI) alters bodily self-consciousness and instigates widespread physiological changes in the participant’s body.

Concepts: Participation, Perception, Sensory system, Sense, Somatosensory system, Ownership, Self, Body


Android and iPhone devices account for over 90 percent of all smartphones sold worldwide. Despite being very similar in functionality, current discourse and marketing campaigns suggest that key individual differences exist between users of these two devices; however, this has never been investigated empirically. This is surprising, as smartphones continue to gain momentum across a variety of research disciplines. In this article, we consider if individual differences exist between these two distinct groups. In comparison to Android users, we found that iPhone owners are more likely to be female, younger, and increasingly concerned about their smartphone being viewed as a status object. Key differences in personality were also observed with iPhone users displaying lower levels of Honesty-Humility and higher levels of emotionality. Following this analysis, we were also able to build and test a model that predicted smartphone ownership at above chance level based on these individual differences. In line with extended self-theory, the type of smartphone owned provides some valuable information about its owner. These findings have implications for the increasing use of smartphones within research particularly for those working within Computational Social Science and PsychoInformatics, where data are typically collected from devices and applications running a single smartphone operating system.

Concepts: Scientific method, Property, Smartphone, Ownership, Motorola, Windows Mobile, IPhone, Mobile operating system


Missing pet cats are often not found by their owners, with many being euthanized at shelters. This study aimed to describe times that lost cats were missing for, search methods associated with their recovery, locations where found and distances travelled. A retrospective case series was conducted where self-selected participants whose cat had gone missing provided data in an online questionnaire. Of the 1210 study cats, only 61% were found within one year, with 34% recovered alive by the owner within 7 days. Few cats were found alive after 90 days. There was evidence that physical searching increased the chance of finding the cat alive (p = 0.073), and 75% of cats were found within 500 m of the point of escape. Up to 75% of cats with outdoor access traveled 1609 m, further than the distance traveled by indoor-only cats (137 m; p ≤ 0.001). Cats considered to be highly curious were more likely to be found inside someone else’s house compared to other personality types. These findings suggest that thorough physical searching is a useful strategy, and should be conducted within the first week after cats go missing. They also support further investigation into whether shelter, neuter and return programs improve the chance of owners recovering missing cats and decrease numbers of cats euthanized in shelters.

Concepts: Retrospective, English-language films, Cat, Distance, Ownership, Searching, Neutering, Personality type


Despite broad support for policies requiring that prospective firearm owners receive training before acquiring a firearm, little is known about the scope and content of firearm training in the USA. Nationally representative surveys conducted in 1994 estimated that 56%-58% of the US firearm owners had received formal firearm training. We conducted a nationally representative survey in 2015 (n=3932; completion proportion=55%) to update those estimates and characterise training contents. 61% of firearm owners and 14% of non-owners living with a firearm owner reported having received formal firearm training. The most commonly reported combination of training topics was safe handling, safe storage and preventing accidents. 15% of firearm owners reported that their training included information about suicide prevention. The proportion of the US firearm owners with formal firearm training has not meaningfully changed since two decades ago. Training programme contents vary widely. Efforts to standardise and evaluate the effectiveness of firearm training are warranted.

Concepts: United States, Prevention, Property, Ownership, Owner-occupier, Cadastre


During recent years, several studies have revealed that human-dog relationships are based on a well-established and complex bond. There is now evidence suggesting that the dog-human affectional bond can be characterized as an “attachment”. The present study investigated possible association between the owners' attachment profile assessed throughout a new semi-projective test (the 9 Attachment Profile) and the owner-dog attachment bond evaluated using a modified version of those used in studying human infants: Ainsworth’s “strange situation”. The findings represented the first evidence for the presence of a correlation between the owners' attachment profile and the owner-dog attachment bond throughout procedure and behavioural analyses involving controlled observations.

Concepts: Psychology, Study skills, Love, Ownership, Mary Ainsworth


There is conflicting evidence about whether living with pets results in better mental and physical health outcomes, with the majority of the empirical research evidence being inconclusive due to methodological limitations. We briefly review the research evidence, including the hypothesized mechanisms through which pet ownership may influence health outcomes. This study examines how pet and non-pet owners differ across a variety of socio-demographic and health measures, which has implications for the proper interpretation of a large number of correlational studies that attempt to draw causal attributions. We use a large, population-based survey from California administered in 2003 (n = 42,044) and find that pet owners and non-pet owners differ across many traits, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, living arrangements, and income. We include a discussion about how the factors associated with the selection into the pet ownership group are related to a range of mental and physical health outcomes. Finally, we provide guidance on how to properly model the effects of pet ownership on health to accurately estimate this relationship in the general population.

Concepts: Scientific method, Empiricism, Interpretation, Ownership, Empirical research, Pet, Real estate, Cadastre