Collective Psychological Ownership and Reconciliation in Territorial Conflicts


  • Nora Storz
  • Borja Martinovic
  • Maykel Verkuyten
  • Iris Žeželj
  • Charis Psaltis
  • Sonia Roccas


Collective psychological ownership refers to people’s perception that an object, place, or idea belongs to their own group. We considered this concept in the context of territorial conflicts and proposed that (1) collective psychological ownership is distinct from place attachment, (2) higher ingroup identifiers are more likely to claim collective ownership and feel attached to the territory, yet (3) only ownership claims are related to lower support for reconciliation. These hypotheses were tested in two studies using structural equation modelling. Study 1 addressed the Kosovo conflict, based on Serbian participants living in Serbia (N = 264). We found that collective psychological ownership and place attachment were distinct. Moreover, higher Serbian identifiers had a stronger sense of collective ownership of Kosovo and were more attached to it. Those with stronger feelings of collective ownership supported reconciliation with Albanians less, while place attachment did not hinder reconciliation. Study 2 replicated these findings among a new sample of Serbs in Serbia (N = 173), among Serbs in Kosovo (N = 129), and in two other conflict settings: among Greek Cypriots in Cyprus (N = 135) and Jews in Israel (N = 109). Altogether, we provide evidence that collective psychological ownership can represent an obstacle to reconciliation in conflict regions.