Pride & Property: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Their Symbiotic Relationship

61 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2016 Last revised: 10 Jun 2018

See all articles by Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University

Date Written: January 17, 2017


Pride and property are mutually reinforcing, symbiotic concepts through which individuals express their identity in a biologically, economically, and psychologically driven manner that generates evolutionarily advantageous conditions. This Article is the first to extensively examine the correlative components of pride and property ownership. It is an interdisciplinary treatment of pride and property — engaging with law, economics, psychology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy. The grossly under-studied “authentic”, achievement-oriented, and motivational variety of pride (as contrasted with the much-vilified “hubristic” kind) has recently been heralded as perhaps the most important human emotion for evolutionary purposes. The Article explains that authentic pride is adaptive, functional, and manifests itself in evolutionarily beneficial ways — including through its interaction with property. The Article also outlines the mechanics of a pride based-utility function.

Property has acquisitional and expressive functions, allowing ownership to be both the repository of pride-based utility and also useful as a vehicle through which evolutionarily-beneficial authentic pride can be expressed. Property can act as a “pride display” that signals status-deservedness to the greater community, enhancing the prospects of group acceptance critical to evolutionary fitness. Although literature has discussed property as integrated with one’s self-identity and personhood, and while recent research on pride has recognized its fundamental relationship to the self, very little if any existing analysis ties those two strands together to analyze pride in property as identity development and to evaluate the motivational role pride plays in the acquisition, maintenance, and improvement of property. This Article seeks to fill that void. It explores ways we might maximize the influence of the utility-enhancing aspects of the pride emotion and examines how we can find new appreciation for the role that identity and our emotions play in how we experience, manage, govern, and protect property.

Keywords: Pride, property, personhood, Radin, ownership, identity, Akerlof, evolutionary psychology, evolution, psychology, economics, utility function, emotions, land use, social rank, cultural anthropology, adaptation, labor theory, evolutionary rationality, social comparison, endowment effect

Suggested Citation

Kochan, Donald J., Pride & Property: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Their Symbiotic Relationship (January 17, 2017). 27 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 255 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

Donald J. Kochan (Contact Author)

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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