Psychological ownership of nature: A conceptual elaboration and research agenda

Xiongzhi Wang, Kelly Fielding, Angela Dean

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Psychological ownership, i.e., the sense that an object is “mine/ours”, has been adapted from the organisational psychology literature and applied to the environmental sphere to promote individuals' conservation behaviours. However, the concept—“psychological ownership of nature”—requires greater scrutiny to inform its usefulness in human dimensions of conservation. Our paper conceptually explores whether nature could be viable objects for ownership feelings. We theoretically differentiate psychological ownership of nature, with sense/feelings of ownership toward nature being the conceptual core, from other similar concepts like place attachment and connection to nature. We also discuss that psychological ownership of nature may effectively elicit conservation behaviours in individuals with strong anthropocentric worldviews but be less influential for those with high ecocentric beliefs. Psychological ownership of nature might also result in adverse outcomes (e.g., nature exploitation). This paper contributes a conceptual elaboration of psychological ownership of nature and its research agenda in conservation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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