The social psychology of property: Looking beyond market exchange

Janice Nadler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Our social norms and moral values shape our beliefs about the propriety of different types of market exchanges. This review considers social and moral influences on beliefs about property and the consequences of these beliefs for the legal regulation of property. The focus is mainly on empirical evidence from social psychology, with additions from related areas like cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, and other social sciences. After briefly reviewing empirical findings on perceptions of property at the level of the individual person, I examine how social relationships shape perceptions about ownership and exchange of property, as well as the boundaries of the broad category of property. Finally, I explore one important type of socially embedded property - the home - and how social psychological conceptions of property as embedded in social relationships have clashed with the development of the legal doctrine of eminent domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-380
Number of pages14
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
StatePublished - Oct 13 2018


  • market exchange
  • morality
  • property
  • social norms
  • social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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