Who Owns What? Psychological Ownership in Shared Augmented Reality

Lev Poretski, Ofer Arazy, Joel Lanir, Oded Nov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychological ownership defines how we behave in and interact with the social world and the objects around us. Shared Augmented Reality (shared AR) may challenge conventional understanding of psychological ownership because virtual objects created by one user in a social place are available for other participants to see, interact with, and edit. Moreover, confusion may arise when one user attaches a virtual object in a shared AR environment onto the physical object that is owned by a different user. The goal of this study is to investigate tensions around psychological ownership in shared AR. Drawing on prior work, we developed a conceptualization of psychological ownership in shared AR in terms of five underlying dimensions: possession, control, identity, responsibility, and territoriality. We studied several shared AR scenarios through a laboratory experiment that was intended to highlight normative tensions. We divided participants into pairs, whereby one participant in each pair created the virtual object (object-creator) and placed it over the other person's (space proprietor) physical object or space. We recorded participants’ perceptions of psychological ownership along the 5 dimensions through surveys and interviews. Our results reveal that the paired participants failed to form a mutual understanding of ownership over the virtual objects. In addition, the introduction of virtual objects called into question participants’ sense of psychological ownership over the physical articles to which the virtual objects were attached. Building on our results, we offer a set of design principles for shared AR environments, intended specifically to alleviate psychological ownership-related concerns. Herein, we also discuss the implications of our findings for research and practice in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102611
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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