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Abstract

This study investigated preschool children’s normative expectations about the fair distribution of resources. We examined whether preschool children have a norm of charity, that is, a norm to give more to poor individuals than to wealthy individuals. To this end, we presented 3- to 6-year-olds (N = 81) with two different resource allocation situations. In one situation, an agent complied with a norm of charity by allocating more resources to a poor recipient than to a rich recipient. In the other situation, a different agent violated the norm by allocating more resources to a wealthy recipient. We assessed (a) children’s verbal protest and affirmation during the resource allocation situations, (b) their punishing and rewarding behavior toward the agents, and (c) their evaluations of the agents’ behavior. The results show that older (5- and 6-year-old) preschool children enforced norm-compliant behavior and protested against the norm violation of the protagonist who gave more items to the wealthy recipient, but this was not the case in younger preschool children. These findings demonstrate that older preschool children consider charity as a norm and enforce this norm toward third parties.

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... The nature of the resources is a critical element in resource distributions. Some studies have investigated the sharing of luxurious and basic resources (Rizzo et al., 2016) that depended on the other person's previous behavior (e. g., Smith & Warneken, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). As a rare exception, Kenward and Östh's (2015) study investigated the allocation of inherently negative resources (i. ...
... Usually, they show self-sacrifice by taking unpleasant responsibilities, such as doing the heavy lifting when tidying up after playing with other children (for an allocation of unpleasant tasks, see Smith & Warneken, 2016). Previous studies also used negative resources (Kenward & Östh, 2015;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Since we intended to keep the tasks as similar as possible across resource valence, we decided to use positive and negative resources as in previous studies (e. g., Böhm & Buttelmann, 2017;Buttelmann & Böhm, 2014). ...
... e., candy), whereas the negative resources came from different categories. Although children rated the valence of the resources as expected, future studies should use more equivalent stimuli such as tasty versus disgusting cookies (Wörle & Paulus, 2018) or fun versus tedious tasks (Smith & Warneken, 2016). Another limitation is that we did not use a manipulation check for the ingroup-outgroup manipulation. ...
Article
Children’s motivation for the egalitarian allocation of resources is reflected in their allocation of positive and negative resources between themselves and others. In the present study, 6- ( n = 29) and 8-year-olds ( n = 25) could choose between different allocations of positive and negative resources to themselves and others in a series of games. The other player was either an ingroup member or an outgroup member. Results revealed that, overall and irrespective of resource valence, 8-year-olds were more likely to choose an egalitarian allocation of resources than 6-year-olds. 8-year-olds also shared more positive resources with the outgroup member than 6-year-olds. Children’s egalitarianism is discussed in light of theories of prosocial development.
... Consequently, for many learners, the learning of mathematical concepts, symbols, and vocabulary remains a 'foreign language' problem (Bornman, 2010;Chernyak et al., 2019;McCrink & Spelke, 2016;Moore et al., 2016). As a direct consequence of the findings highlighted in these studies, errors are seen to be a function of other unknown variables in a misunderstanding of the mathematical text and process (Bornman, 2010;Wörle & Paulus, 2018;Ziv & Sommerville, 2017). On the other hand, too, various positions have been held by cognitive learning theory scholarship regarding what should be recognised as [mis]understanding of the semantics of the mathematical text (Bornman, 2010;Burrows, 2000;Buswell, 1999;Flavell, 1999;Goswami, 2008;Kim, S. & Kim, 2016;Piping, 2001;Shalev, 2004;Shunkoff, 2000;Wörle & Paulus, 2018;Ziv & Sommerville, 2017). ...
... As a direct consequence of the findings highlighted in these studies, errors are seen to be a function of other unknown variables in a misunderstanding of the mathematical text and process (Bornman, 2010;Wörle & Paulus, 2018;Ziv & Sommerville, 2017). On the other hand, too, various positions have been held by cognitive learning theory scholarship regarding what should be recognised as [mis]understanding of the semantics of the mathematical text (Bornman, 2010;Burrows, 2000;Buswell, 1999;Flavell, 1999;Goswami, 2008;Kim, S. & Kim, 2016;Piping, 2001;Shalev, 2004;Shunkoff, 2000;Wörle & Paulus, 2018;Ziv & Sommerville, 2017). For instance, based on Goswami's (2008) view, challenges associated with understanding of mathematical text may be the result of deficits in basic prerequisites, including unfamiliarity with algorithms/procedures and an unsatisfactory fundamental knowledge of mathematical concepts. ...
... Notwithstanding the 3 assessment offered by Flavell (1999), Shalev (2004), Shunkoff (2000), and Skott (2005) opine that when one attempts to go beyond the description of faulty techniques and error patterns and towards the analysis of possible causes in the learners' cognitions, the various aspects of information processing seem to offer a good basis for classification. This has also been suggested by Kim, S., and Kim (2016), Wörle and Paulus (2018), and Ziv and Sommerville (2017). Most significantly, though, was the search for answers regarding the conceptual sources of verbal counting principles as well as how early childhood mathematics learning knowledge construction is formed, first by Edwards (2000), later by Carrey (2007), and thereafter by a number of authors (Ekdahl et al., 2016;Liu et al., 2015;Shou et al., 2015) as further examined in related work. ...
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Article
The current research aims at examining challenges associated with numerical cognition in early years in South Africa. Guided by cognitive learning theory, the current investigation was informed by continuous quest in South Africa. The aim was to respond to unresolved challenges associated with early numerical cognition in terms of numerical cognition through semantics and textual misunderstanding in early numerical problems and concepts. Using survey design, a sample of 80 learners was chosen and tested through descriptive statistics. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires. It was revealed that the challenges associated with numerical cognition in early numerical problems and concepts are counting, reading numbers that contain more than one digit, difficulties with copying numbers, mathematical signs confusion, and challenges associated with manipulatives. By implication, the study highlighted that there is a severe lack of numerical literacy and competency among learners. Implying too that teachers need to pay particular attention to both semantics and textual misunderstanding
... One core area of developmental research explores when and how equality becomes a key concern for young children (e. g., Blake & McAuliffe, 2011;Carpendale, Hammond, & Atwood, 2013;Damon, 1977;DeJesus, Rhodes, & Kinzler, 2014;Elenbaas, Rizzo, Cooley, & Killen, 2016;Smith, Blake, & Harris, 2013;Ulber, Hamann, & Tomasello, 2015). Moreover, it has been explored when and under which circumstances children realize or endorse more complex fairness principles such as merit or need (e.g., Baumard, Mascaro, & Chevallier, 2012;Elenbaas, 2019;Kanngiesser & Warneken, 2012;Malti et al., 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). ...
... Thus, affective dynamics likely appear much more contextualized (depending on beliefs, traits etc.) in adults than in children, yet they still seem to be present. This model allows for the hypothesis that the preferential treatment of rich others should be more enhanced in children that have not developed a normative stance that one should rectify inequalities (e.g., Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Moreover, the reference to an interplay between affective and cognitive processes reminds the reader on dual-process accounts of human cognition according to which the dynamic antagonism between an intuitive affective system and a more deliberate cognitive system explain behavior. ...
... One could thus hypothesize a developmental sequence according to which perpetuation of inequality should be more enhanced in older children, particularly when reciprocation is possible. This also relates to findings that fairness-based inequality (that is, inequality based on merit or need) seems to emerge later than equality Malti et al., 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). In addition, given the cognitive prerequisites of strategic behavior, this account would hypothesize that perpetuation of inequality is more pronounced when cognitive control and strategical thinking is more developed. ...
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Article
Recent research has shown that preschool children tend to preferentially allocate resources to rich than to poor others. The findings that young children tend to perpetuate inequalities are puzzling given classical developmental theories that largely focused on the emergence of equality and equity in childhood. In this review, we first sketch the early ontogeny of fairness concerns before providing an overview on studies reporting perpetuation of inequality in young children. We review four classical theories (Piaget, Kohlberg, Damon, Social Domain Theory) and discuss how they would account for this phenomenon. We then introduce four recent theoretical models that directly speak to the underlying psychological processes; the affective preference model, the reciprocity-based strategic model, the numerical matching model, and the normative model. We highlight the key tenets of each model, their relation to other developmental processes, and the strength of the empirical evidence. From each model, we derive specific hypotheses. Finally, in an integrative section we discuss how the models might relate to each other, highlight connections to other research areas, and present avenues for future research.
... This increasing importance of equity has been reported in 13 different cultures, but seems to be especially marked in individualistic cultures (Huppert et al., 2019) Importantly, children do not only show a tendency toward equity in their own behavior, but they also consider equity as a norm -that is, something one ought to do. For example, in a study by Wörle and Paulus (2018), the tendency to protest or show affirmation of a certain behavior was measured and interpreted as a sign that children thought that a norm was either violated or respected. Children were shown puppets that shared resources in an equitable or in an inequitable way (i.e., giving more to a poor recipient or a rich recipient). ...
... These results are highly informative for our understanding of the neurocognitive bases of normative development. Given that recent research demonstrates that preschoolers already consider equity in their behavior and evaluations (Li et al., 2014;Wörle & Paulus, 2018), it would be interesting to move this line of research to a next level and explore the neural correlates of equity as it emerges. ...
... In the present study, we specifically compared equitable and inequitable distributions (more to the poor vs more to the rich), without including equal distributions. We decided to focus on this contrast following previous behavioral studies (Wörle & Paulus, 2018) and to make it easier for 5-year-olds to focus on the difference between the two unequal distributions. Moreover, as 5-year-olds show a strong preference for equal splits (Elenbaas, 2019;Malti et al., 2016;, we wanted to avoid the possibility of them focusing only on the difference between equal and unequal splits, which would have been more salient for them. ...
Article
This study aimed at investigating the neurocognitive correlates of the perception and evaluation of equitable and inequitable distributions in 5-year-old children. Children observed one character distributing toys or candies between two recipients. One of the recipients already possessed many resources, and the other possessed just a few. We used event-related potentials to compare brain activity elicited by equitable (the poor receives more) and inequitable (the rich receives more) distribution. On a behavioral level, children evaluated inequitable distribution as worse than equitable and considered the distributor as mean and worthy of punishment when she distributed inequitably as compared to equitably. On the neural level, we expected to find a MFN effect between 250-350 ms after picture onset. Instead, we found a frontal positivity (P2), which was greater for inequitable vs. equitable distributions, indicating greater saliency and attentional capture. This was followed by marginally significant greater positivity for equitable distributions between 600 to 1000 ms after picture onset (LPP), which indicates greater allocation of processing resources. Furthermore, a greater LPP was associated with more extreme evaluations for both conditions. This suggests that the more resources children invest in processing the distribution, the more they endorse equity and condemn inequity.
... Notably, recent work has shown that preschool children show an awareness of social norms and actively enforce social norms in others. They spontaneously protest against unfair resource distributions and show affirmative behavior when norms are obeyed (Rakoczy, Kaufmann, & Lohse, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Moreover, young children evaluate wrongdoers negatively (Killen, Mulvey, Richardson, Jampol, & Woodward, 2011) and even punish third parties in order to enforce normcompliant behavior (Kenward & Östh, 2015;McAuliffe, Jordan, & Warneken, 2015). ...
... Tomasello, 2009;Turiel, 2010). Previous research has focused on aspects of impartiality (e.g., Rakoczy et al., 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018) and its interaction with intergroup contexts (Cooley & Killen, 2015;McAuliffe & Dunham, 2016). This line of research has shown that equality is the dominant fairness principle for young children (e.g., Elenbaas, 2019). ...
... That is, the current study was designed to examine whether children hold the normative view that one should be partial toward friends in two experiments. We relied on well-established measures of normative stances in preschool children, that is, an assessment of spontaneous protest and affirmation (Rakoczy et al., 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018), explicit judgment and reasoning (Killen et al., 2011), andreward andpunishment (McAuliffe et al., 2015). In Experiment 1, we presented young children with two scenarios in which a protagonist could distribute resources between a friend and a nonfriend. ...
Article
Contemporary moral philosophy stresses the idea of reasonable partiality. This concept proposes that close relationships carry a normative obligation to be partial towards another person. This study explored in two experiments whether 4- to 6-year-old children (n=185) enforce partiality from third parties (Experiment 1) and how they prioritize a norm of equality and a norm of partiality (Experiment 2). Children were presented with protagonists who could distribute resources between a friend and a disliked peer. One protagonist complied with a norm of partiality by allocating more resources to his friend, whereas the other protagonist either behaved in the opposite way (Experiment 1) or distributed resources equally (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, children enforced partiality by protesting against the protagonist who gave more to the disliked peer and by selectively affirming the protagonist who gave more to a friend. Yet, in Experiment 2 children showed stronger enforcement of a norm of equal sharing than partiality towards a friend. The study demonstrates how young children deal with normative demands in the context of friendship. At the same time, it suggests that fairness norms are given priority. Overall, our study demonstrates how young children handle normative demands and interpersonal responsibilities.
... Notably, recent findings demonstrate that young preschool children possess normative stances on how to distribute resources fairly between others (Rakoczy, Kaufmann, & Lohse, 2016;Rizzo, Elenbaas, Cooley, & Killen, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018. For example, Wörle and Paulus (2018) presented 3-to 6-year-old children with two protagonists. ...
... Notably, recent findings demonstrate that young preschool children possess normative stances on how to distribute resources fairly between others (Rakoczy, Kaufmann, & Lohse, 2016;Rizzo, Elenbaas, Cooley, & Killen, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018. For example, Wörle and Paulus (2018) presented 3-to 6-year-old children with two protagonists. Each of the protagonists could distribute resources between a rich recipient and a poor recipient. ...
... Overall, these findings show that preschool children do not only have normative views that concern the omission of antisocial acts, but also view some types of prosocial behaviors as being normatively required. These studies also point to developmental changes in children's considerations of contextual factors and others' neediness: Three-year-old children strongly adhere to a norm of equal sharing (Rakoczy et al., 2016), while 5-year-old children enforce a norm of giving more to a poor than a rich other (Wörle & Paulus, 2018). That is, older preschool children considered the neediness of the recipients in considerations of resource allocations. ...
Article
The study examined whether preschool children conceive of empathy-based comforting as being an obligatory reaction towards others in emotional need. We presented 3- and 5-year-old children with three scenarios in which protagonists showed different reactions towards an agent who has hurt herself. One protagonist reacted antisocially by laughing at the agent, one ignored the agent, and one demonstrated empathy-based comforting. The 3-year-olds only protested against the antisocial protagonist. In contrast, the 5-year-olds protested against the protagonists who either acted antisocially or ignored the needy other while they selectively affirmed the protagonist who showed empathy-based comforting. The findings indicate that a norm for empathy-based comforting develops in the preschool years. Overall, our study demonstrates the emergence of a normative concern with the well-being of others, a central aspect of human altruism.
... Consequently, we would expect protest against the protagonist's behavior selectively in the experimental condition but not in the control condition. Recent work also showed evidence that children selectively affirm correct behaviors (Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Given that spontaneous affirmative responses have also been interpreted as indicating a normative stance, we also assessed whether children would show more affirmation in the control condition than in the experimental condition. ...
... After a warm-up phase, participants were presented with an experimental condition and a control condition in a within-participants design. Our experimental design built on an established paradigm (e.g., Rakoczy & Tomasello, 2009;Schmidt et al., 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018) in that it compared children's reactions toward norm-compliant behavior versus norm violation. Each condition consisted of two trials. ...
... This is a [object name]") or normative (e.g., ''This is not right," ''This is correct") protest or affirmation. Coding was adapted from previous work (e.g., Rakoczy, Kaufmann, & Lohse, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Given that most comments were imperative (similar to Rakoczy & Tomasello, 2009), both types of comments were merged into one category. ...
Article
The current study examined whether young children conceive of language use as a normative practice. To this end, 3- and 5-year-old children first learned a novel word. Thereafter, they were presented with a protagonist who used the novel word to refer to either the correct or the incorrect object. Children of both age groups selectively protested when the protagonist used the word incorrectly and older children selectively affirmed when the protagonist used the word correctly. Overall, the study is in line with theoretical notions that early language acquisition could be conceived of as the acquisition of a normative social practice.
... Both shame and guilt are thought to There is already some evidence that preschoolers possess normative standards regarding some kinds of prosocial behaviors. For instance, by age 5 to 6 (but not age 3 to 4) children protest third parties' failures to be charitable towards poor individuals [31]. Similarly, when explictly judging others' helping in hypothetical scenarios young children by age 3 evaluate helping as obligatory in most contexts [32]. ...
... There nevertheless may be differences in the degree to which 4-and 5-year-olds felt that helping was required of them, which influenced children's emotional response. A developmental shift in children's normative expectations of helping aligns with previous work showing that 5to 6-year-olds, but not 3-to 4-year-olds, protest third parties' failures to be charitable [31]. In line with this investigation, older children in the current studies might have felt more like they ought to have helped. ...
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Article
Self-conscious emotions, such as guilt and shame, motivate the adherence to social norms, including to norms for prosociality. The relevance of an observing audience to the expression of negative self-conscious emotions remains poorly understood. Here, in two studies, we investigated the influence of being observed on 4-to 5-year-old children's (N = 161) emotional response after failing to help someone in need and after failing to complete their own goal. As an index of children's emotional response, we recorded the change in children's upper body posture using a motion depth sensor imaging camera. Failing to help others lowered children's upper body posture regardless of whether children were observed by an audience or not. Children's emotional response was similar when they failed to help and when they failed to complete their own goal. In Study 2, 5-year-olds showed a greater decrease in upper body posture than 4-year-olds. Our findings suggest that being observed is not a necessary condition for young children to express a negative self-conscious emotion after failing to help or after failing to complete their own goal. We conclude that 5-year-olds, more so that 4-year-olds, show negative emotions when they fail to adhere to social norms for prosociality.
... Verbal comments were then further categorized into three qualitatively distinct categories (cf. Rakoczy et al., 2008Rakoczy et al., , 2016Wörle and Paulus, 2018): Responses including normative vocabulary (e.g., "Good decision. Right!" or "Unfair!") were counted as normative protest/affirmation (n). ...
... and protest, κ = .84. Following previous research (e.g., Rakoczy et al., 2016;Wörle and Paulus, 2018), we computed two types of protest/affirmation scores to account for the qualitatively different forms of protest/affirmation. This procedure allowed us to conduct both more liberal and more conservative analyses. ...
Article
Previous research debated whether and to which extent normative views and own resource distribution behavior in childhood are dissociated or aligned. The present study aimed to advance this debate by examining the relation from two different methodological viewpoints within the same study. Here, 4-6-year-old children’s (N=91) normative views and distribution behavior when confronted with a rich friend and a poor non-friend were assessed. Children’s spontaneous protest and affirmation toward distributors, evaluations, and punishment judgments served as normative indicators. Looking at average normative views and behavior, preschoolers held a normative view toward rectifying inequalities while favoring the rich friend themselves. Looking at the consistency of interindividual differences, preschooler’s normative view correlated with behavior. The study highlights that the relation between normative views and behavior is characterized by both dissociation and coherence.
... For example, when children were asked to share resources with a poor or rich character, 5-year-old, but not 3-year-old, children shared more with the poor recipient than with the wealthy recipient (Paulus, 2014b). Similarly, before the age of 5 years, children also do not oppose unequal distributions between a poor and wealthy puppet (Wörle, & Paulus, 2018). Research on sharing thus suggests that around 4 or 5 years of age children share selectively and give more to those with a greater need for resources. ...
... Our findings resemble findings from Paulus (2020) on instrumental helping, in which only older children provide more instrumental help to those who needed it more. Our results are also resonant with studies focused on children sharing, in which it is only around age 4 or 5 that children will share more resources with needy recipients compared with non-needy recipients (e.g., Malti et al., 2016;Paulus, 2014b;Sigelman & Waitzman, 1991;Wörle, & Paulus, 2018). Thus, although sharing behavior differs in many ways from helping behavior (see Dunfield et al., 2011;Sierksma, 2018;Sierksma & Thijs, 2017), research on sharing suggests a similar developmental shift as what we report here. ...
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Article
When and how other people’s needs influence children’s helping is poorly understood. Here we focused on whether children use information about other people’s competence in their helping. In Study 1 (N = 128 4- to 8-year-old children), children could provide help to both an incompetent target and a competent target by pushing levers. Whereas older children helped incompetent targets more than competent targets, younger children (<5 years) helped both targets equally. Two further experiments (N = 20 and N = 28) revealed that 4-year-olds understood that the incompetent person needed more help and also understood how they could help. Thus, young children do not, like older children, give more help to those who need it the most. We discuss potential developmental changes toward competence-based helping.
... For example, when children were asked to share resources with a poor or rich character, 5-year-old, but not 3-year-old, children shared more with the poor recipient than with the wealthy recipient (Paulus, 2014b). Similarly, before the age of 5 years, children also do not oppose unequal distributions between a poor and wealthy puppet (Wörle, & Paulus, 2018). Research on sharing thus suggests around 4 or 5 years of age children share selectively and give more to those with a greater need for resources. ...
... Our findings resemble findings from Paulus (2020) on instrumental helping, in which only older children provide more instrumental help to those who needed it more. Our results are also resonant with studies focused on children sharing, in which it is only around age 4 or 5 that children will share more resources with needy recipients compared with non-needy recipients (e.g., Malti et al., 2016;Paulus, 2014b;Sigelman & Waitzman, 1991;Wörle, & Paulus, 2018). Thus, although sharing behavior differs in many ways from helping behavior (see Dunfield et al., 2011;Sierksma, 2018;Sierksma & Thijs, 2017), research on sharing suggests a similar developmental shift as what we report here. ...
Preprint
When and how other people’s needs influence children’s helping is poorly understood. Here we focus on whether children use information about other people’s competence in their helping. In Study 1 (n = 128, 4-8 years) children could provide help to both an incompetent and a competent target by pushing levers. Although older children helped incompetent targets more than competent targets, younger children helped both targets equally. Two further experiments (n = 20; n = 28) revealed that 4-year-old children understood that the incompetent person needed more help and also understood how they could help. Thus, young children do not, like older children, give more help to those who need it the most. We discuss potential developmental changes toward competence-based helping
... Different studies demonstrate that preschoolers have a preference to allocate more resources (between other people) and share at greater levels (between self and others) with resource-poor, rather than resource-rich recipients [43,44,45]. Alongside these behavioural findings, research also suggests that older preschoolers have normative expectations for more charitable distributions to poor, rather than rich recipients [46]. Thus, any preference to share more with the puppet that was awarded with stickers is unlikely to be influenced by an associationist strategy, but rather reflects the levels of competence demonstrated by the high merit puppet co-worker. ...
... Such reasoning (e.g., thinking about what the puppet would think about them) involves more advanced forms of social understanding (e.g., second order false belief), and is considered to be beyond the capabilities of pre-schoolers [47]. However, pre-schoolers are sensitive to social cues (e.g., the presence of watching eyes) and modify their levels of generosity in such contexts [44,45,46]. This suggests that three-and four-year-olds within the present study, at least implicitly, are able to make inferences about how their co-worker puppet would view their sharing behaviour. ...
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Article
Non-windfall approaches to sharing demonstrate pre-schoolers’ sensitivity to merit-based distributions of resources. However, such studies have not considered (1) whether epistemic aspects of task performance, such as the relative accuracy of a co-worker, influences pre-schoolers’ rates of sharing; and (2) how children’s emerging social understanding may impact resource allocations in high- and low-merit situations. These issues are of theoretical importance as they may provide new information about the scope of pre-schooler’s merit-based sharing behaviours. Moreover, as social understanding has been related to both increases and decreases in pre-schoolers’ levels of sharing, providing a merit-based assessment of this relationship would allow for a concurrent assessment of recent conflicting findings. In this study, three- and four-year-olds (N = 131) participated in an unexpected transfer task which was followed by a resource generation picture card naming task with a reliable or unreliable (high- or low-merit) co-worker (a hand puppet). The results showed that children engage in more generous rates of sharing with a high-merit co-worker. This suggests that merit-based sharing is apparent in young children and extends to epistemic aspects of task performance. However, such sharing was constrained by a self-serving bias. Finally, we were not able to detect an effect of children’s performance on the false belief task on sharing behaviours in the high- or low-merit trials, suggesting that these behaviours may not be modulated by social understanding during early childhood.
... The current study employed events with puppets, following previous studies that used puppets with the same paradigms, that is manual choice tasks (Hamlin et al., 2007 or allocation tasks (Kenward & Östh, 2012;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). In the present work, the familiarization events involved drama (especially 'non-protective event' in which the victim falls down) that elicit emotional reactions comparable to those elicited by similar real-life events in children and adults, irrespective of whether the events are perceived as real (Huston et al., 1995;Pouliot & Cowen, 2007;Schiller, 2005). ...
... ) b Punishment/reward phase For the punishment/reward phase, we used a procedure like in Wörle and Paulus (2018), who provided tasty and ugly looking cookies to children. The first experimenter put the two protagonists on a table near the wooden theatre and showed a box with four tasty looking cookies that were light brown with raspberry cream and another with four and disgusting looking cookies that were green (see Figure 4). ...
Article
This study investigates the interplay between social evaluation and relationship context in the second year of life. We examined how 21-month-olds (N = 50) evaluate a 'protective puppet' over to an 'ignore puppet' in three different types of relationship: in the first one a puppet observes from a distance a child playing alone and eventually falls down (uninvolved); in the second two puppets play together when one accidentally falls down (social); in the third two puppets play together when an aggressor disturbs one of the two players (defence). We assessed with two test trials: (a) toddlers' preferences through a choice phase; (b) social evaluations through a rewarding/punishing phase. The results reveal how social relationship context affects toddlers' personal preferences and evaluations. On the choice task, toddlers preferred a puppet who protected a victim to one who ignored only when the victim was identified as a member of a social interaction and a playmate. On the allocation task, toddlers were more likely to give tasty cookies to the protective and ignore puppet in all cases, except when the receiver was the ignore puppet in the social and defence relationship context. The findings support a developmental continuity and provide further evidence of a rich prosociality, which before the second year of life proves to be based on well-defined principles.
... By middle childhood, concerns for strict equality slowly give way to a broader understanding of equity, especially in contexts with preexisting inequalities between recipients (Li et al., 2017;Schmidt et al., 2016;W€ orle & Paulus, 2018). This developmental shift reflects changes in children's developing moral reasoning and cognitive capacities (Chernyak, Sandham, Harris, & Cordes, 2016;Ng, Heyman, & Barner, 2011;, 2018a. ...
... These results extend past literature examining children's judgments of equal, equitable, and meritorious allocations Schmidt et al., 2016;W€ orle & Paulus, 2018) by documenting children's early ability to distinguish between the fairness or unfairness of these allocation strategies in response to explicitly individually and structurally based inequalities. Given children's early preference for strict equality, it is important to know when children begin to differentiate between different forms of unequal allocations. ...
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Article
This study investigated children's ability to distinguish between resource inequalities with individual versus structural origins. Children (3‐ to 8‐years‐old; N = 93) were presented with resource inequalities based on either recipients’ merit (individual factor) or gender (structural factor). Children were assessed on their expectations for others’ allocations, own allocations, reasoning, and evaluations of others’ allocations. Children perpetuated merit‐based inequalities and either rectified or allocated equally in response to gender‐based inequalities. Older, but not younger, children expected others to perpetuate both types of inequalities and differed in their evaluations and reasoning. Links between children's allocations and judgments were also found. Results reveal novel insights into children's developing consideration of the structural and individual factors leading to resource inequalities.
... Norm enforcement thereby comprises behaviors indicative of a negative evaluation of an action that the agent should not do or behaviors suggestive of an alternative action that the agent should do. Previous work has primarily focused on normative expressions (e.g., ''You may not do this"), imperative expressions (e.g., ''Stop," ''No"), corrective actions (e.g., keeping an agent from performing a norm violation), and negative questioning expressions (e.g., shaking head) as indictors of norm enforcement in early childhood (e.g., Hardecker et al., 2016;Rossano et al., 2011;Schmidt et al., 2016Schmidt et al., , 2019Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Despite the key role that normativity plays in cultural learning (e.g., Boyd et al., 2011;Legare & Harris, 2016), surprisingly little work has examined the early origins of normativity in infancy. ...
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Article
Major developmental theories allot imitation a pivotal role in the cultural acquisition of social norms. While there exists considerable evidence on young children’s norm enforcement behavior, the ontogenetic emergence of normativity and the role of imitation is debated. Here, we assessed two pathways how general imitation tendencies might relate to norm enforcement: The compliance path holds that young children’s general imitation tendencies lead to displaying compliant behavior, which, in turn, predicts norm enforcement towards third parties. The internalization path suggests that young children’s general imitation tendencies lead to an internal representation of normative rules. As children observe third parties’ normative transgressions a perceived discrepancy between internalized representation of the rule and observed behavior arises, which, in turn, triggers corrective action, that is, norm enforcement behavior. We assessed 18-month-olds’ (N = 97) general imitation tendencies across four tasks, their compliance with maternal directives across two tasks, and their self-distress as well as protest behavior following normative transgressions. Results showed (1) that while imitation significantly predicted compliance behavior, compliance did not predict norm enforcement behavior and (2) that imitation predicted self-distress, which, in turn, predicted norm enforcement. These findings speak to internalization as one psychological basis of norm enforcement behavior and highlight the importance of imitation in the ontogenetic emergence of normativity.
... Developmental science has accumulated considerable evidence on the emergence and development of young children's prosocial and aggressive behavior over the first years of life (e.g., Arsenio et al., 2000;Dahl, 2015Dahl, , 2016aDahl & Freda, 2017;Dunfield, 2014;Hammond, 2014;Hammond & Brownell, 2018;Hammond et al., 2017;Hay, 2005;Hay & Cook, 2010;Hay & Ross, 1982;Hay et al., 2021;Hyde et al., 2015;Lorber et al., 2015;Mackler et al., 2015;Paulus, 2014Paulus, , 2018Paulus, , 2019Pettygrove et al., 2013;Sengsavang & Krettenauer, 2015;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Following a recent framework on the emergence of human altruism (Dahl & Paulus, 2019), early behavioral indicators of prosociality (e.g., infants holding their toothbrush, infants helping their parents with chores) before and around infants' first birthday are based on children's interest in social interactions and to constitute important precursors of intentional prosociality (Hammond et al., 2017). ...
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Article
Developmental theories have proposed caregiver reactions, in particular caregivers’ moral reasoning with their children, as crucial factors in children’s developing morality. Yet, empirical evidence is scarce and mainly restricted to laboratory contexts. Here, we used the ambulatory assessment method to investigate how caregiver responses to moral transgressions longitudinally relate to children’s emerging moral agency. On the first measurement point, mothers (N = 220) reported on 9 consecutive evenings on a moral transgression of their 5- to 46-month-olds, their own emotional and verbal reactions and how in turn their child reacted. Five months later, mothers reported on their child’s aggressive and prosocial (helping, sharing, comforting) behavior. Our results demonstrated that (1) caregiver reasoning supported children’s sharing and comforting behavior and was related to lower levels of children’s aggressive behavior half a year later, that (2) caregiver reasoning reactions supported children’s negative evaluations of their own transgressions while compliance-based caregiver reactions (e.g., physical interventions, reprimands) were predictive of children’s subsequent emotional distress and anger, and that (3) caregiver social conformity and reflective functioning abilities emerged as determinants of caregiver negative moral emotions. Thus, this study uses an innovative methodological approach to uncover key characteristics of caregiver moral reactions supporting the development of morality.
... The fact that all participants contributed essentially what they believed others would contribute suggests two aspects characterising cooperation: first, that throughout the lifespan, humans expect to be reciprocated, which is in line with developmental studies revealing that the norm of reciprocity is acquired already during the preschool years 32,33,34 ; second, that throughout the lifespan, beliefs about other people's decisions are modulated by intuition and deliberation in the same way that their own decisions are. ...
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Preprint
Cooperation is one of the most advantageous strategies to have evolved in small and large-scale human societies, often considered essential to their success or survival. We investigated how cooperation and the mechanisms influencing it change across the lifespan. Using incentivised economic games, we assessed cooperative choices from adolescence to older age (12-79 years) forcing participants to decide either intuitively or deliberatively through the use of randomised time constraints. As determinants of these choices, we considered participants’ level of altruism, their social expectations, their optimism, their desire to be socially accepted, and their attitude toward risk. We found that intuitive decision-making favours cooperation, but only from age 20 when a shift occurs: while in young adults, intuition favours cooperation, in adolescents it is reflection that favours cooperation. Adults and older adults were found to be most cooperative, with intuition still favouring cooperation in older adults, but not in working-age adults where well-established social cooperative heuristics govern both intuitive and deliberative decision making. Participants’ decisions were shown to be rooted in their expectations about other people’s cooperative behaviour and influenced by individuals’ level of optimism about their own future. We show that intuition promotes cooperation only after adolescence, and that the journey to the cooperative humans we become is shaped by reciprocity expectations and individual predispositions.
... Calls for a more democratic approach to involving children in fundraising is further supported by educational, social and psychology theory and research which highlights the primary school years (ages 4-11 years) as crucial in the development and normalisation of civic behaviours (e.g., Arthur et al., 2017;Duong & Bradshaw, 2017;Housman et al., 2018;van Deth et al., 2011;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). ...
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Article
Fundraising literature predominantly focuses on adult donors, with limited literature addressing younger donors, particularly children, and virtually no discussion on the normative ethics which inform fundraising with children. Addressing this gap, this article examines the ethical dilemmas posed by the mainstreaming of charity fundraising in primary schools. Regardless of high levels of participation, research with primary school pupils shows that children's engagement in fundraising activities is often passive, with little decision making afforded to children. First, we question the ethics of passively engaging children in the fundraising relationship. Second, we question the role of fundraising more broadly in helping to cultivate children's philanthropic citizenship, suggesting that current fundraising mechanisms in schools are counter-intuitive to fostering long-term philanthropic engagement. We argue that by critically engaging children in the process of giving, children develop a deeper understanding of the cause areas that matter to them, which cultivates a longer-term commitment to philanthropy. This is potentially a different goal than that of many organisations involving schools in fundraising, where the focus is on incentivising transactional fundraising efforts aiming to raise as much money as possible and thus raises particular ethical challenges which must be considered. In this paper we draw on previous research and established frameworks for understanding philanthropic behaviour to explore the ethical challenges of fundraising with children in schools and present a pathway towards a more child-led, children's rights approach to fundraising in primary schools.
... Although there is some evidence, then, that children can agree upon and enforce different types of conventional norms in a group situation, to our knowledge there is no research on children's participation in stipulating, including enforcing nonarbitrary morally relevant norms such as sharing rules (although there is much work on children's enforcement of preexisting moral norms; Vaish, Missana, & Tomasello, 2011;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). The sharing context of interest in the current study involves a duty-based normative perspective-that is, people should share according to this or that norm. ...
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Article
Young children act prosocially in many contexts but are somewhat selfish when it comes to sharing their resources in individual decision-making situations (e.g., the dictator game). But when deciding collectively, would they make it a binding rule for themselves and others to act selfishly in a resource sharing context? Here we used a novel “group dictator game” in a norm creation paradigm to investigate whether 3- and 5-year-olds (N = 48) would agree to and enforce a selfish or prosocial sharing norm. Children from a Western cultural background were paired with two puppets at a time. Each group member had an endowment of four stickers and faced a photograph of a recipient. In the prosocial norm condition a proposer puppet suggested to share half of one’s endowment, whereas in the selfish norm condition another proposer suggested to share nothing. The protagonist puppet then either followed or violated the suggested norm. We found that 5-year-olds (but not 3-year-olds) rejected selfish proposals more often than prosocial proposals. Importantly, older (but not younger) preschoolers also enforced the prosocial (but not the selfish) norm by protesting normatively and intervening when the protagonist acted selfishly (and thus violated the norm). These results indicate that a collective decision-making context may enhance preschoolers’ prosociality and that moral considerations on the content of a proposed sharing rule influence preschoolers’ creation and enforcement of such nonarbitrary norms.
... For the punishment/reward phase, we used a procedure like that of Wörle and Paulus (2018), who provided tasty and ugly cookies to children. The first experimenter showed the children a box of four tasty cookies that were light brown with a cherry on top and a box of four disgusting-looking cookies that were dark green-brown. ...
Article
This research investigates whether preschoolers evaluate positively a puppet that comforts another puppet and how different relationship contexts affect these evaluations. Children were presented with three familiarization events showing different relationship conditions that differed for the social interaction type between puppets: uninvolved, social, and conflict. For each condition, in one trial (comforting event), the puppet approached (prosocial agent) the victim, and in another one (ignoring event), the puppet leaned forward and the victim remained alone (antisocial agent). We assessed retributive motivations and personal preferences. The results showed a developmental trend to prefer and reward the comforter rather than the ignorer, independently of relationship context. The findings also suggested the presence of evaluation processes correlated with child age. No effect of relationship context on the actions performed by the prosocial or antisocial agent was found. This work sheds light on what developmental mechanisms contribute to creating an “adult” moral sense.
... For example, when faced with preexisting inequality in the distribution of resources (i.e., a high-wealth or low-wealth recipient), 3-and 4-year-olds tend to allocate resources equally; in contrast, by 5 years of age, children rectify inequality by favoring disadvantaged recipients (Elenbaas, Rizzo, Cooley, & Killen, 2016;Enright et al., 2020;Malti et al., 2016;Paulus, 2014) even though they prefer wealthy peers (Li, Spitzer, & Olson, 2014). By 5 years of age, as a third party, children will even protest against and punish others who give more resources to wealthy recipients (Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Factors such as contact with low-wealth individuals and the motivation to help historically disadvantaged groups can help to explain children's emerging preference for achieved equity (Elenbaas & Killen 2019;Elenbaas et al., 2016). ...
Article
Asymmetries in social status, specifically social status related to wealth and relational power, appear to influence the ways in which children allocate resources. However, the impact of wealth and relational power status on children’s resource allocation decisions has yet to be examined among children developing within a Chinese cultural context. In addition, how children weight the relative importance of these factors when they exist concurrently is not well understood. In Study 1, we examined the impact of recipients’ wealth and relational power status on Chinese children’s (3- to 8-year-olds; N = 199) allocation decisions. We found that across both categories of social status, 3- and 4-year-olds gave more to high-status individuals, whereas 7- and 8-year-olds gave more to low-status individuals, despite younger children also showing a strong egalitarian preference when the resources could be allocated equally. In Study 2, we investigated how children (3- to 8-year-olds; N = 219) weigh the relative importance of these two types of social status in situations where the level of recipients’ wealth and relational power were either consistent or in conflict. When they needed to allocate the resources unequally, the youngest children were found to place greater emphasis on wealth over relational power and favored the high-status individual, whereas older children tended to favor the low-status individual and placed greater importance on relational power over wealth. Overall, we found a consistent age-related shift from favoring high-status individuals toward compensating low-status individuals, suggesting a developing concern for social equity.
... Young children develop an expectation that resources will be allocated equally and a preference for equal over unequal allocators (Sommerville & Ziv, 2018). Throughout childhood, children build on these expectations, forming a prescriptive understanding of fairness and a recognition of the distinction between equality and equity (Essler, Lepach, Petermann, & Paulus, 2019;Schmidt, Svetlova, Johe, & Tomasello, 2016;Wörle & Paulus, 2018). In the context of preexisting inequalities, equality refers to distributing the same number of resources to all individuals regardless of the current distribution (which maintains the initial inequality) and equity refers to distributing more resources to individuals who currently have fewer (which rectifies the initial inequality). ...
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Article
Social inequalities limit important opportunities and resources for members of marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Understanding the origins of how children construct their understanding of social inequalities in the context of their everyday peer interactions has the potential to yield novel insights into when-and how-individuals respond to different types of social inequalities. The present study examined whether children (N = 176; 3- to 8-years-old; 52% female, 48% male; 70% European American, 16% African American, 10% Latinx, and 4% Asian American; middle-income backgrounds) differentiate between structurally based inequalities (e.g., based on gender) and individually based inequalities (e.g., based on merit). Children were randomly assigned to a group that received more (advantaged) or fewer (disadvantaged) resources than another group due to either their groups' meritorious performance on a task or the gender biases of the peer in charge of allocating resources. Overall, children evaluated structurally based inequalities to be more unfair and worthy of rectification than individually based inequalities, and disadvantaged children were more likely to view inequalities to be wrong and act to rectify them compared to advantaged children. With age, advantaged children became more likely to rectify the inequalities and judge perpetuating allocations to be unfair. Yet, the majority of children allocated equally in response to both types of inequality. The findings generated novel evidence regarding how children evaluate and respond to individually and structurally based inequalities, and how children's own status within the inequality informs these responses. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... Children also form different judgments about the prosocial behaviours of third-parties, depending on the characteristics of and the relationship between the actors. Between ages 4 to 6, children expect others to share more with a needy recipient than with a wealthy one (Wörle & Paulus, 2018) and more with a liked peer than with a disliked peer (Paulus & Moore, 2014). ...
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Article
Moral judgments can vary depending on the social relationship between agents. We presented 4- and 6-year-old peer dyads (N = 128) with stories, in which a parent (parent condition) or a peer protagonist (peer condition) faced a child in need of help (e.g., the child is thirsty). The dyads had to decide whether the protagonist helped at a cost (e.g., by giving up their water) or not. 6-year-olds expected a parent to help her child more than they expected a child to help a peer. Moreover, children justified their expectations more often with normative statements (e.g., "She has to help") in the parent condition than in the peer condition. Thus, refusal to help a child was more acceptable coming from a peer than from a parent. This shows that young children take into account multiple perspectives and form different normative expectations for different social agents when making moral judgments.
... Concern for equality, for instance, emerges very early in development; even toddlers expect and engage in equal sharing (Fehr, Bernhard, & Rockenbach, 2008;Olson & Spelke, 2008). By age 5-6 years, children also correct existing inequalities between peers by distributing items like toys in accordance with recipients' needs Wörle & Paulus, 2018). However, recent studies indicate that children may only correct inequalities between peers when they perceive them to be caused by unfair practices (e.g., explicit favoritism of one person, or one group, over another) (Elenbaas & Killen, 2017;Rizzo, Elenbaas, & Vanderbilt, 2018). ...
Article
This study examined how young children reasoned about two important factors—equality and ownership—when they were in conflict with one another in a resource distribution context. The sample included N = 110 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse 5- to 7-year-olds (MAge = 6;4, SD = 9 months). Children reasoned about how to distribute resources (gummy bears) between two peers who differed in their outcomes (pictures colored) and their opportunities (crayons to color with). Many children found it unacceptable to distribute resources based on outcome when the opportunity to earn them was unequal, particularly if they explicitly reasoned about unequal opportunities. Once recipients had taken possession of their gummy bears, however, children who reasoned about ownership concluded that it was unacceptable to redistribute the treats in order to adjust for unequal opportunity while children who reasoned about equality found this action acceptable. These results highlight young children’s emerging ability to balance competing moral concerns and resolve resource conflicts.
... Although we saw no clear evidence that executive functioning or theory of mind plays a role in this process, it is possible that other cognitive factors such as numerical cognition (e.g., Chernyak et al., 2019) are involved. Children's growing understanding of social norms (Wörle & Paulus, 2018) and their changing views of fairness and equality may also be important. Direct and indirect social experience may also play a role because as children grow up they engage in more frequent discussions with peers, parents, teachers, and other individuals about what is fair, and they are likely to overhear people talking about it. ...
Article
Although there has been extensive research on how children distribute resources with respect to quantity, little is known about how these decisions are affected by resource quality. The current research addressed this question by conducting two preregistered studies in which 3-, 5-, and 7-year-old children (total N = 360) made anonymous distributions of high-quality and low-quality items. Quantitative fairness entailed distributing an equal number of items irrespective of quality, and qualitative fairness entailed distributing equal numbers of high-quality and low-quality items. In Study 1, a majority of 7-year-olds distributed resources equally between themselves and another child in terms of both quality and quantity, whereas a majority of 3- and 5-year-olds did so only in terms of quantity while giving themselves a qualitative advantage. In Study 2, a majority of children in all three age groups distributed resources equally between two other children in terms of both quality and quantity. Together with prior findings, these results suggest that children selectively ignore the dimension of quality when it serves their own interests. The results also show, for the first time, that by 7 years of age children consider quality even at the expense of their own interests and that children as young as 3 years have the capacity to take into account resource quality when making distributions.
... As for the rival view, studies show that emergence of the normative mind and the ability to make value judgments come much later in development than the time children can resist temptations. Findings suggest that children only at the age of 5 and 6, and not younger, can protest against norm violation (Wörle and Paulus 2018). Examination of children's understanding of norms of rationality shows that 3-to 5-year-olds fail to distinguish between hypothetical norms (which apply only if the agent has the relevant goal) and categorical norms (which apply regardless of agent goals) (Dahl and Schmidt 2018). ...
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Article
Recently, a number of experimental philosophers have converged on the position that the ordinary concept of weakness of will does not solely consist in "judgment" or "intention" violation but is more like a cluster concept in which each factor plays contributory roles in the application of the concept. This, however, raises the question as to which factor is more central or plays a more signifcant role in folk's understanding of the concept. I contend that the ordinary concept of weakness of will is primarily constituted by the "executive commitment" rather than the "evaluative commitment" practices. Drawing on extensive evidence from developmental psychology, I will argue that the executive commitment, which, as I will show, involve intention recognition and metarepresentation, is developmentally prior and more fundamental in our exercise and intuitive understanding of the concept.
... However, from 5 years of age onward, awareness of recipients' neediness increases with age (Kienbaum & Wilkening, 2009;Malti et al., 2016;Rizzo, Elenbaas, Cooley, & Killen, 2016). At 5 years of age, children begin to display normative expectations that one should give more to a poor person than to a well-off one (Wörle & Paulus, 2018). Specifically, in a study of actual sharing behavior, Kogut, Slovic, and Västfjäll (2016) found that children aged 6 years and above exhibited a significant increase in sharing behavior when confronted with a needy recipient compared with a non-needy one. ...
Article
The current study examined the association between children's subjective well-being (SWB) and their sharing behavior. School children (second and fifth graders) were interviewed in private and had an opportunity to share candy with a recipient under one of two between-participants conditions: Perceived-High Obligation (a recipient in poverty) and Perceived-Low Obligation (a temporarily needy recipient). Results provide initial evidence of an increased association between SWB and sharing decisions with age; whereas SWB was not significantly correlated with the incidence of sharing by younger children (second graders), it was a positive predictor of sharing behavior among fifth graders. Manipulating the perceived obligation to share (by emphasizing the causes beyond the recipient's need), we found that higher levels of SWB were linked to sharing only in the Perceived-Low Obligation condition. Children with lower SWB behaved as expected by the norm and shared to a similar degree as children with higher SWB when sharing felt obligatory. However, when sharing was less obligatory, higher levels of SWB were linked to higher levels of sharing.
Article
Numerous studies document children's understanding of fairness through their ability to rectify inequities when distributing resources to others. Understanding fairness, however, involves more than just applying norms of equity when distributing resources. Children must also navigate situations in which resources are collected equitably from them for a common good. The developmental origins and trajectory of equitable resource collection is understudied in the literature on children's prosocial behavior. Experiment 1 presented 4‐8‐year‐olds (N = 130) with characters who started with different amounts of resources that were available for both personal use and a group project in school. Participants were asked how a teacher should fairly collect resources from the two characters, contrasting the teacher taking the same amount of resources from each individual (preserving the inequity) or leaving each individual with the same amount of resources (rectifying the inequity). Four‐ and 5‐year‐olds responded randomly; six‐ to 8‐year‐olds preferred to rectify the inequity. Experiment 2 reproduced this finding on a new group of 5‐7‐year‐olds (N = 69), eliciting justifications for their choice. Justifications in terms of fairness related to equitable choices. Experiment 3 reproduced this finding again in a new group of 5‐7‐year‐olds (N = 77), contrasting children's preference for equitable resource collection with that of resource distribution. Children were more likely to rectify an inequity when collecting resources than when distributing resources to individuals who started with an inequity. This difference was driven more by the younger children in the sample. We discuss potential mechanisms for these findings in terms of children's developing concepts of fairness Across three experiments, children developed preferences for equitable collection of resources by age 6. Preferences for equitable resource collection were more likely to be justified by appealing to concepts of fairness. Although preferences for equitable resource collection emerged slightly before equitable resource distribution, these data suggest children develop a unified mechanism for prosocial resource allocation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Article
Justice sensitivity (JS), the tendency to perceive and adversely respond to injustice, was related to prosocial behavior in different age groups and to distributive preferences in adults. To test influences of JS on sharing and distributive preferences, middle childhood as an important phase for moral development may be particularly interesting. We asked 1320 5- to 12-year-old children (M = 8.05 years, SD = 1.02; 51.2 % girls, 1.3 % transgender and gender-nonconforming) to read five vignettes that made salient the different principles of distributive justice (equality, merit, and need) and to distribute imaginary sweets between themselves and one described child (sharing) or between two described children (distributing). Children also rated their JS, and parents rated children’s theory of mind (ToM) abilities and empathy. More concerns for justice for the self (victim JS) predicted distributions following the merit principle and a preference for need over equality and merit when forced to choose among the three. Caring for justice for others (altruistic JS) predicted more sharing, equal distributions, less distributions according to the merit principle, and a preference for equal distributions over merit and need when forced to choose among the three. These associations prevailed when ToM and empathy were included as control variables. The findings underline the importance of justice-related personality traits, such as JS, for moral development in middle childhood.
Article
To successfully navigate their social worlds, children must adapt their behaviors to diverse situations and do so in a fluid fashion. The current study explored preschool-aged children’s sensitivity to a gameplay context (cooperative/competitive) and messages from another (fictional) player (team-oriented/self-oriented) while distributing gameplay resources. To understand children’s approach to social behavior within these contexts, we focused on whether these factors affected 1) the number of resources children provided to the other player and 2) children’s verbal responses to other players. Children (4 to 6 years-old, N = 118) first provided verbal responses to audio messages, then completed a resource distribution task. Children’s verbal responses were influenced by both context and the other players’ messages; however, there was a greater influence of players’ messages in a competitive context. In contrast, children’s resource distributions were influenced primarily by the context (greater sharing of resources in the cooperative context). Children with better ToM showed a greater shift in their distributive behavior across conditions, specifically, distributing more items to the other players within a cooperative context relative to a competitive context. Also, within a cooperative context, children with better EF generated more prosocial comments for the other player. Together, the findings highlight the interplay between contextual and interpersonal factors with children’s cognitive skills for prosocial behavior.
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Article
Children increasingly appreciate normative obligations and share resources across preschool years. But the internal structure and behavioral relevance of normative expressions in the context of sharing, that is, the relation with children’s own sharing behavior, remains disputed. Here, 4- to 6-year-old children (N = 90, 37 female) observed protagonists sharing or not sharing resources. As measures of normative expressions, children’s evaluation, punishment acceptability, non-costly punishment, and costly punishment of the protagonists as well as their moral self-concept was assessed. To measure actual prosocial behavior, children had the possibility to share resources. A factor analysis revealed that the variety of normative expressions constitute two distinct factors: norm representation (evaluation, hypothetical punishment) and its enforcement (actual non-costly and costly punishment). Children’s moral self-concept was the only normative expression that related to sharing behavior. Person-centered analyses suggest some consistency in individual differences across normative and prosocial development, with normative expressions and sharing behavior being aligned for some children on a low level and for some children on a high level. This study advances our understanding of early normative development and highlights the internal structure of normative stances in the preschool years.
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Although studies have shown that preschoolers can think pro-environmentally, whether they can act pro-environmentally, especially at a personal cost, remains unexplored. We directly investigated how 4–6-year-old preschoolers reacted to pro-environmental and anti-environmental behaviors within their sphere of influence. In two studies (N = 211), children were presented with vignettes that showed both pro-environmental and anti-environmental actions and completed three tasks: distributed stickers (reward) to the protagonists shown in the vignettes in Task I and distributed non-costly or costly unpleasant items (punishment) to the protagonists in Tasks II and III, respectively. Results showed that older children rewarded pro-environmental actions more than younger children did, while 4–6-year-olds consistently punished anti-environmental actions. Moreover, 6-year-olds (but not younger children) systematically reasoned and insisted on punishment, even at a personal sacrifice. Together, preschoolers can act pro-environmentally, suggesting that beginning early in their development, they show a behavioral capacity and willingness to encourage pro-environmental behavior.
Article
In this study, we investigate the relationship between social preferences (material preference and group preference) and indirect reciprocity and the role of empathy in 3–5-year-old children in China. The first study involved 94 children and aimed to investigate the relationship between social preferences and indirect reciprocity and the moderating effect of empathy on the aforementioned relationship. In Study 2, 128 children were selected to examine the effect of empathy induction on indirect reciprocity. Our results indicated that preschool children showed certain social preferences and paid forward both positive and negative outcomes to others. However, these social preferences would not jointly affect children's indirect reciprocity. Cognitive empathy could moderate the relationship between social preferences and children's positive indirect reciprocity. Additionally, empathy induction could promote the positive indirect reciprocity and inhibit the negative indirect reciprocity.
Chapter
This chapter highlights the relevance of public satisfaction with the police within a context in which the maintenance of order is achieved, mostly and overtly, through coercion and a general disregard for the rule of law. As argued here, in contexts where the maintenance of order is achieved through non-normative methods, citizens may, certainly, have no faith or confidence in the morality of the law. Hence, they may likely not be satisfied with the police. As will be seen, the outcomes for this study reinforce this very assertion, and as such demonstrate that factors such as age, normative expectations, treatment outcome, and perceptions of procedural justice have the innate potentialities to shape satisfaction with police. This means that the public is concerned not only with the primary functions of the police, but how they carry out duties associated with these functions as well as how to treat or behave towards citizens during encounters. The implications of these findings for the way citizens expect the police to conduct themselves in maintaining social order in the community are discussed in this chapter.
Article
To distribute resources in a fair way, identifying an appropriate outcome is not enough: We must also find a way to produce it. To solve this problem, young children spontaneously use number words and counting in fairness tasks. We hypothesized that children are also sensitive to other people's use of counting, as it reveals that the distributor was motivated to produce the outcome they believed was fair. Across four experiments, we show that U.S. children (N = 184 from the New Haven area; ages four to six; Approximately 58% White, 16% Black, 18% Hispanic, 4% Asian, and 4% other) believe that agents who count when distributing resources are more fair than agents who produce the same outcome without counting, even when both agents invest the same amount of effort. And vice versa, when the same two agents produce an unfair outcome, children now condemn the agent who counted. Our findings suggest that, from childhood, people understand that counting reflects a motivation to be precise and use this to evaluate other people's behavior in fairness contexts.
Article
We examined children’s distinct positive emotions (pride vs. joy) following sharing decisions while manipulating the recipient’s neediness. Whereas both emotions are positive and desirable, pride is experienced when adhering to social goals and expectations. Therefore, we hypothesized that, with age, as children become more aware of their society’s norms and internalize them, pride would be more positively related to sharing situations that highlight social norms and expectations (i.e., sharing with a poor child). We examined this hypothesis between two age groups (7–9 and 10–12 years) while assessing children’s predictions of others’ emotions following a decision to share in hypothetical scenarios (Study 1) and their self-reports following actual sharing decisions (Study 2). We found that older children (10–12 years), but not younger children (7–9 years), predicted more intense pride for protagonists who had decided to share their endowment with a needy other (recipient in poverty) than with a not-needy other. This effect was mediated by older children’s perception of the motivation to share with a needy other (what one should do). A similar pattern was found for overall positive feelings (pride and joy) in children’s self-reports following an actual sharing decision.
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The aim of the current study was to explore whether children’s allocation would vary according to whether the recipient who had a shortage of necessities had different merit (outcome: contribution more or contribution less, effort: laziness or diligence) when distributing necessary resources. Children aged 4–11 years (N = 345) were introduced to allocated resource in a conflict situation (need vs. merit). Findings demonstrated that 6–7-year-olds, but not 4–5-year-olds, allocated more resources to recipients in need. When the recipient’s contribution conflicted with need, 6–11-year-olds were more likely to consider need rather than contribution. However, when the recipient in need contributed less because of laziness, children consider less of the recipient’s needs and turn to allocating more resources to the recipient who is diligent. These results indicated that as children age, they pay more attention to a recipient’s needs; moreover, their allocation to those in need will be influenced by the recipient’s perceived effort.
Article
Although issues of global justice are increasingly considered an important topic to include in elementary school curricula, little is known about children’s perspectives on complex distributive justice issues. This exploratory study investigated children’s understanding of a fair economic distribution between the workers involved in international trade. As part of a classroom project, in mixed-aged groups, 57 elementary school children were invited to discuss how they would fairly divide 30 coins among five workers involved in the banana trade. Results showed that half of the groups decided for equal distributions, based on arguments of strict equality, equal work, equal value, or interdependence. The other half of the groups decided for unequal distributions, based on the different contributions, and costs and profits. In each group, children generally agreed or accepted others’ ideas. Findings provide preliminary insights on how elementary school children collectively reason about distributive justice concerning a complex global issue.
Chapter
Als altruistisches Verhalten wird ein helfendes Verhalten bezeichnet, das nicht vorrangig der eigenen Person, sondern anderen nützt. In diesem Kapitel erfahren Eltern und andere Betreuungspersonen, wie sich prosoziales Verhalten bei Kindern im Vorschulalter beobachten und fördern lässt.
Article
Preschool-aged children show remarkable sophistication in their social evaluation of others, yet struggle struggle with proportional social evaluation (evaluating others not only with respect to how much they give, but what proportion they give). Here, we explored whether prompting children to count would enhance using proportion during social social evaluation. Following prior work (McCrink et al., 2010), preschoolers (N = 130) completed 4 trials in which they made social evaluations of 2 puppets. The trials pitted puppets whose giving behavior was (1) absolutely (i.e., numerically) equal but proportionally different (one puppet gave 2/8 and another gave 2/4), (2) absolutely different but proportionally equal (2/4 vs. 1/2), (3) in conflict (one puppet gave proportionally more, but the other gave absolutely more; 1/2 vs. 2/8), and (4) whose proportional and absolute giving showed no conflict (3/4 vs. 1/12). Our critical question was whether children would select the poorer puppet (puppet with smaller endowment). Children were assigned to one of four conditions: a Full Counting condition in which they were prompted to count both the puppet’s initial endowment as well as the stickers the puppet shared, a Partial Counting condition in which they counted only the initial endowment, a No Counting Condition, and a Continuous Condition in which a puppet gave 3/8 of a piece of playdough, rather than 3 of 8 stickers). These results show that encouraging children to count when evaluating sharing decisions promotes proportional reasoning in social evaluations. Additionally, across all conditions, our reaction time measures showed that selecting the poorer puppet was associated with slower reaction times (less automatic) than selecting the richer puppet during the conflict trial. The results are discussed in terms of implications for how cognitive limitations influence children’s social reasoning in the context of equity.
Article
While children generally prefer equal distributions of resources, we know little about the contextual and individual variability in these preferences. The present work examined experimental manipulations and associations between individual differences in empathy and parental teaching of “just world beliefs”, and children's perceptions of, and reactions to, unequal distributions. Children (aged 5–8, N = 96) watched videos of two puppets receiving unequal resources in varying contexts: distribution by one or multiple individuals, crossed with taking the perspective of the advantaged or disadvantaged puppet. Age was positively associated with perceived unfairness. Behavioural reactions to distributions were associated with individual and contextual factors: Greater cognitive empathy and lower teaching of just world beliefs were associated with increased rectification, and children with greater affective empathy favoured the disadvantaged puppet, but these relations only emerged in certain contexts. Findings provide guidance for interventions aimed at promoting morality, suggesting emphasis on behavioural responses to inequality and empathy-training.
Chapter
The early development of morality has become a topic of intense research in the past decade. One key question concerns how young children become moral beings, that is, how and when moral concerns emerge in human ontogeny. Here, I review four currently prominent theoretical approaches that propose different psychological bases of the ontogeny of morality: The innate moral core theory, the second-person morality and two-stage theory, the internalization model, and the constructivist approach. I summarize their core ideas and evaluate the strengths and limitations of each approach. Finally, questions for future research and theory development are presented.
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How should one respond to ubiquitous economic inequalities? The legend Robin Hood suggests to take away from the wealthy to benefit the poor, while another strategy holds the opposite (Matthew effect). Here, 3- to 8-year-old children (N = 140) witnessed protagonists performing redistributions (e.g., Robin Hood, Matthew) of necessary and luxury resources between a wealthy and a poor child. Results showed that, with age, children increasingly approved of Robin Hood and increasingly disapproved of Matthew. In addition, reasoning about others’ welfare mediated the effect of age on children’s evaluation of Robin Hood, but only for necessary resources. This suggests that children regard restorative justice actions as a strategy to address social inequalities when it increases the welfare of disadvantaged agents.
Article
In deciding when to help, individuals reason about whether prosocial acts are impermissible, suberogatory, obligatory, or supererogatory. This research examined judgments and reasoning about prosocial actions at three to five years of age, when explicit moral judgments and reasoning are emerging. Three- to five-year-olds (N = 52) were interviewed about prosocial actions that varied in costs/benefits to agents/recipients, agent-recipient relationship, and recipient goal valence. Children were also interviewed about their own prosocial acts. Adults (N = 56) were interviewed for comparison. Children commonly judged prosocial actions as obligatory. Overall, children were more likely than adults to say that agents should help. Children’s judgments and reasoning reflected concerns with welfare as well as agent and recipient intent. The findings indicate that 3- to 5-year-olds make distinct moral judgments about prosocial actions, and that judgments and reasoning about prosocial acts subsequently undergo major developments.
Chapter
In this chapter, I will present the sketch of a developmental account on how young children become moral agents. That is, I aim to provide an answer to the question of how normativity comes into human life and, in particular, how children start to conceive of actions as being good or bad, or as being obligated or prohibited. The account builds on considerations put forward by cultural evolution theory and philosophy of language, as well as constructivist and social-interactionist developmental approaches. I will argue that only normative language represents an unequivocal empirical indicator for the presence of a moral stance and that becoming a moral agent means to become a player in the moral language game. I conclude that a full understanding of moral development requires us to acknowledge the dynamic interplay between our biological basis as social beings, the socializing force of our social environment, and the active role of the child itself.
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The twenty-first century is witnessing a rapid rise in concern regarding wealth inequality and the fairness of our economic systems. Alongside this concern, research is uncovering the detrimental effects of high inequality on human behavior. However, comparatively little effort is spent understanding how these economic factors may be influencing children as they age. This is particularly important as examining child development can reveal fascinating insights into human nature. Here we provide a review of research from developmental psychology about how children’s understanding of fairness develops as they age, from a concern for equality to a concern for equity, merit and need. Furthermore, we highlight how these concerns evolve from a concern for the self to a concern for the self and others. Finally, we chart research shedding light on how diverse cultural backgrounds may be shaping children’s perceptions of inequality differently, and how economic inequality may be influencing the way children treat others.
Article
This study examined young children’s judgments of resource distributions that either adhered to or diverged from principles of equality, equity, or merit in straightforward, peer-based scenarios. The sample comprised 192 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse 3- to 8-year-olds. Between 3 and 8 years of age, children evaluated inequitable and anti-meritorious allocations more negatively but did not evaluate equitable and meritorious allocations more positively. Rather, between 3 and 8 years, children increasingly supported equality. Highlighting an important but often overlooked developmental distinction, these results suggest that young children are increasingly against unfairness, but do not always endorse the most complex forms of distributive fairness.
Article
Reciprocity has been suggested to represent a crucial normative principle for humans. The current study aimed to investigate the normative foundations of reciprocity and the development of a reciprocity norm in young children. To this end, we presented 3- to 6-year-olds with three conditions. In one condition, a protagonist reciprocated sharing a large proportion of resources. In another condition, a protagonist reciprocated sharing a small proportion of resources. In a third condition, a protagonist did not reciprocate sharing a large proportion by giving rather few resources and, thus, violated a reciprocity norm. Results show that 5- and 6-year-olds endorse compliance with a reciprocity norm, which is reflected in their evaluations of the protagonists and their spontaneous verbal affirmation of reciprocal behavior. In contrast, 3- and 4-year-olds exclusively valued general prosociality, neglecting reciprocity. This indicates that children acquire a norm of reciprocity during the course of the preschool period.
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The present study investigated preschoolers' multiple sociomoral considerations (equality, equity, perpetuating inequality) in a third-party context of social inequality. Using a resource allocation task involving one wealthy and one poor character, we examined how 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 100) allocated either necessary (must-have) or luxury (nice-to-have) resources. In addition, preschoolers’ emotions, reasoning, and judgments were assessed. Results indicated that preschoolers distributing more resources to wealthy than poor others displayed a decision-making pattern distinct from preschoolers allocating equally or equitably and largely matched the numeric proportions of the inequality in their allocations. In addition, preschoolers were sensitive to the differential implications of necessary and luxury resources, thereby considering others’ needs in their moral decisions. Emotions were related to reasoning, but did not mediate the relationship between judgment and behavior. These findings demonstrate novel aspects of preschoolers’ multifaceted moral considerations in the context of resource inequality.
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In a hidden inequality context, resource allocators and resource recipients are unaware that an unknowingly advantaged recipient possesses resources. The present study presented children aged 3–13 years (N = 121) with a hidden inequality vignette involving an accidental transgression in which one resource claimant, who unknowingly possessed more resources than another claimant, made an “unintentional false claim” to resources. This unintentional false claim resulted in depriving another recipient of needed resources. Results revealed that children’s ability to accurately identify the claimant’s intentions was related to how they evaluated and reasoned about resource claims, a previously understudied aspect of resource allocation contexts. Children’s attributions of intentions to the accidental transgressor mediated the relationship between age and evaluations of the accidental transgression and the relationship between age and assignment of punishment to the accidental transgressor. With age, children who negatively evaluated the unintentional false claim shifted from reasoning about lying to a focus on negligence on the part of the unintentional false claimant. This shift reflects an increasing understanding of the accidental transgressor’s benign intentions. These findings highlight how mental state knowledge and moral reasoning inform children’s comprehension of resource allocation contexts.
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The present study investigated age-related changes regarding children's (N = 136) conceptions of fairness and others' welfare in a merit-based resource allocation paradigm. To test whether children at 3- to 5-years-old and 6- to 8-years-old took others' welfare into account when dividing resources, in addition to merit and equality concerns, children were asked to allocate, judge, and reason about allocations of necessary (needed to avoid harm) and luxury (enjoyable to have) resources to a hardworking and a lazy character. While 3- to 5-year-olds did not differentiate between distributing luxury and necessary resources, 6- to 8-year-olds allocated luxury resources more meritoriously than necessary resources. Further, children based their allocations of necessary resources on concerns for others' welfare, rather than merit, even when one character was described as working harder. The findings revealed that, with age, children incorporated the concerns for others' welfare and merit into their conceptions of fairness in a resource allocation context, and prioritized these concerns differently depending on whether they were allocating luxury or necessary resources. Further, with age, children weighed multiple moral concerns including equality, merit, and others' welfare, when determining the fair allocation of resources.
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Wealth differences between individuals are ubiquitous in modern society, and often serve as the basis for biased social evaluations among adults. The present research probed whether children use cues that are commonly associated with wealth differences in society to guide their consideration of others. In Study 1, 4–5-year-old participants from diverse racial backgrounds expressed preferences for children who were paired with high-wealth cues; White children in Study 1 also matched high-wealth stimuli with White faces. Study 2 conceptually replicated the preference effect from Study 1, and showed that young children (4–6 years) also use material wealth indicators to guide their inferences about people’s relative standing in other domains (i.e., competence and popularity). Study 3 revealed that children (5–9 years) use a broad range of wealth cues to guide their evaluations of, and actions toward, unfamiliar people. Further, biased responses were not attenuated among children whose families were lower in socioeconomic status. Often overlooked by those who study children’s attitudes and stereotypes, social class markers appear to influence evaluations, inferences, and behavior early in development.
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Researchers have proposed different accounts of the development of prosocial behavior in children. Some have argued that behaviors like helping and sharing must be learned and reinforced; others propose that children have an initially indiscriminate prosocial drive that declines and becomes more selective with age; and yet others contend that even children's earliest prosocial behaviors share some strategic motivations with the prosociality of adults (e.g., reputation enhancement, social affiliation). We review empirical and observational research on children's helping and sharing behaviors in the first 5 years of life, focusing on factors that have been found to influence these behaviors and on what these findings suggest about children's prosocial motivations. We use the adult prosociality literature to highlight parallels and gaps in the literature on the development of prosocial behavior. We address how the evidence reviewed bears on central questions in the developmental psychology literature and propose that children's prosocial behaviors may be driven by multiple motivations not easily captured by the idea of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation and may be selective quite early in life. © The Author(s) 2015.
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This study investigated children's evaluations of peer group members who deviated from group norms about equal and unequal allocation of resources. Children, ages 3.5 to 4 years and 5 to 6 years (N = 73), were asked to evaluate a peer group member who deviated from 1 of 2 group allocation norms: (a) equal allocation of resources, or (b) unequal allocation of resources. Most children negatively evaluated deviant group members who espoused an unequal allocation, even when it benefitted the group, and explained their evaluation with reference to fairness. However, participants who liked unequal deviants (who advocated for an unequal allocation of resources) reasoned about group functioning and the benefits that an unequal allocation would have for the group. With age, children displayed social acumen by differentiating their own evaluation of the deviant act from their expectations of the group's favorability toward that deviant member. Findings revealed age-related increases for social acumen about group norms, as well as the use of fairness reasoning regarding resource allocation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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Recent studies have provided evidence that young children already engage in sharing behavior. The underlying social‐cognitive mechanisms, however, are still under debate. In particular, it is unclear whether or not young children’s sharing is motivated by an appreciation of others’ wealth. Manipulating the material needs of recipients in a sharing task (Experiment 1) and a resource allocation task (Experiment 2), we show that 5‐ but not 3‐year‐old children share more with poor than wealthy individuals. The 3-year-old children even showed a tendency to behave less selfishly towards the rich, yet not the poor recipient. This suggests that very early instances of sharing behavior are not motivated by a consideration of others’ material needs. Moreover, the results show that 5-year-old children were rather inclined to give more to the poor individual than distributing the resources equally, demonstrating that their wish to support the poor overruled the otherwise very prominent inclination to share resources equally. This indicates that charity has strong developmental roots in preschool children.
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This paper is concerned with the relationships among moral reasoning, moral motivation, moral action, and moral identity. It explores how major figures in developmental psychology have understood these relationships, with attention to schematic models or conceptual maps. After treating Piaget, Kohlberg, Rest, Colby and Damon, and Blasi, I present a critical synthesis, a conceptual model of how developmental psychology might best answer the question, Why be moral? Copyright (C) 2002 S. KargerAG, Basel.
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Young children endorse fairness norms related to sharing, but often act in contradiction to those norms when given a chance to share. This phenomenon has rarely been explored in the context of a single study. Using a novel approach, the research presented here offers clear evidence of this discrepancy and goes on to examine possible explanations for its diminution with age. In Study 1, 3-8-year-old children readily stated that they themselves should share equally, asserted that others should as well, and predicted that others had shared equally with them. Nevertheless, children failed to engage in equal sharing until ages 7-8. In Study 2, 7-8-year-olds correctly predicted that they would share equally, and 3-6-year-olds correctly predicted that they would favor themselves, ruling out a failure-of-willpower explanation for younger children's behavior. Similarly, a test of inhibitory control in Study 1 also failed to explain the shift with age toward adherence to the endorsed norm. The data suggest that, although 3-year-olds know the norm of equal sharing, the weight that children attach to this norm increases with age when sharing involves a cost to the self.
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When prompted, preschoolers advocate punishment for moral transgressions against third parties, but little is known about whether and how they might act out such punishment. In this study, adult demonstrators enacted doll stories in which a perpetrator child doll made an unprovoked attack on a victim child doll, after which an adult doll punished either the perpetrator (consistent punishment) or victim (inconsistent punishment). When asked to help retell the story, given free choice of their own preferred actions for the adult doll, 4-year-olds (N = 32) were influenced by the demonstrated choice of target when selecting a target for punishment or admonishment. This influence was weak following inconsistent punishment, however, because the participants tended to change the story by punishing or admonishing the perpetrator when the demonstrator had punished the victim. Four-year-olds' tendency to select a moral rule violator as a target for punishment is therefore stronger than their tendency to copy the specific actions of adults, which itself is known to be very strong. The evidence suggests that 4-year-olds' enactment of punishment is at least partially based on a belief that antisocial actions deserve to be punished.
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This study investigated the principles that children and adolescents rely on when allocating a resource fairly. In a series of three experiments, 51 Swiss children (aged 7 and 9 years) and 309 German children (aged 6, 9, and 15 years) participated. A different situational context was presented in each experiment, where luck, need and effort of two protagonists were systematically varied. Primary-school children relied mainly on need when making distributive justice judgements. Effort became more prominent as the allocation principle in adolescence. Equality occurred rarely in all age groups. Integrational capacity and the ability to differentiate between the three situational contexts increased from childhood to adolescence. The data suggest the conclusion that the development of distributive justice decisions has both generalized and context-specific components.
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Examined the development of 108 toddlers' moral and conventional judgments and the effects of language development on those judgments. 26-, 34-, and 42-mo-old Ss judged the permissibility, seriousness, generalizability, and rule and authority contingency of 10 familiar moral and conventional transgressions, and also responded to parallel language comprehension items (LCIs). The youngest Ss did not distinguish morality and convention on any of the criteria, but 34-mo-olds judged moral transgressions to be more generalizably wrong than conventional transgressions. By age 42 mo morality and convention were distinguished on all the criteria. Ss who responded correctly to the corresponding LCIs differentiated moral and conventional transgressions on the basis of generalizability, rule contingency, and authority contingency at earlier ages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Social norms have played a key role in the evolution of human cooperation, serving to stabilize prosocial and egalitarian behavior despite the self-serving motives of individuals. Young children’s behavior mostly conforms to social norms, as they follow adult behavioral directives and instructions. But it turns out that even preschool children also actively enforce social norms on others, often using generic normative language to do so. This behavior is not easily explained by individualistic motives; it is more likely a result of children’s growing identification with their cultural group, which leads to prosocial motives for preserving its ways of doing things.
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Causing harm to others would hardly seem to be relevant to cooperation, other than as a barrier to it. However, because selfish individuals will exploit cooperators, functional punishment is an effective mechanism for enforcing cooperation by deterring free-riding. Although functional punishment can shape the social behaviour of others by targeting non-cooperative behaviour, it can also intimidate others into doing almost anything. Second-party functional punishment is a self-serving behaviour at the disposal of dominant individuals who can coerce others into behaving cooperatively, but it need not do so. Third-party and altruistic functional punishment are less likely to be selfishly motivated and would seem more likely to maintain norms of cooperation in large groups. These forms of functional punishment may be an essential part of non-kin cooperation on a scale exhibited only by humans. While punitive sentiments might be the psychological force behind punitive behaviours, spiteful motives might also play an important role. Furthermore, functionally spiteful acts might not be maladaptive; reckoning gains relative to others rather than in absolute terms can lead to hyper-competitiveness, which might also be an important part of human cooperation, rather than just an ugly by-product.
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Theoretical models suggest that 4- and 5-year-old children should be able to differentiate between multiple dimensions of self-concept, but empirical support is limited. A new 38-item Self Description Questionnaire for Preschoolers (SDQP) that measures 6 self-concept factors (Physical, Appearance, Peers, Parents, Verbal, and Math) was developed and tested. Through an individual-interview procedure, young children (4.0-5.6 years) completed the SDQP and achievement tests. The self-concept scales were reliable (.75-.89), first-order and higher order confirmatory factor analysis models fit the data, and factor correlations were mostly moderate (-.03-.73; Mdn = .29). Achievement test scores correlated modestly with academic self-concept factors (rs = .15-40) but were nonsignificantly or significantly negatively related to nonacademic self-concepts. The results contribute to the critical debate about the validity of self-reports for preschool children, who distinguished between multiple dimensions of self-concept at an even younger age than suggested by previous self-concept research.
Book
Just as there are rational requirements on thought, there are rational requirements on action. This book defends a conception of ethics, and a related conception of human nature, according to which altruism is included among the basic rational requirements on desire and action.
Article
Although the development of fairness has become a topic of wide interest, little is known about the correlates and factors that relate to the early ontogeny of fairness-related decision making in preschoolers. The current study assessed 5-year-old children’s consideration of existing inequalities in their resource allocation decisions, that is, their tendency to allocate more resources to poor others than to rich others. In addition, children’s prosocial responding toward others in pain, the amount of their social interaction experiences, and their social-cognitive abilities were assessed. The results provide evidence that children’s early social interaction experiences and empathy-based prosocial responding relate to their fairness-related decision making, supporting a relational systems approach to early prosocial and moral development.
Article
Recent work has suggested the presence of a variety of motives and mechanisms that affect young children’s sharing decisions. Yet, little is known on the relative impact of these motives. In three experiments with 3- to 6-year-old children (total n=140), the present study contrasts two important recipient characteristics that have been suggested to play a major role in early sharing; the positive social relationship between child and recipient, and the differences in recipients’ wealth. To this end, children could allocate resources to a friend who already possessed a lot of them and to a nonfriend (Experiment 1, 2) or a stranger (Experiment 3) who owned only very few resources. Across age, children showed a preference to share more with their rich friend, although this tendency was stronger in the older preschool children. The findings are discussed with respect to theoretical accounts on the psychological basis of early sharing.
Article
An important, and perhaps uniquely human, mechanism for maintaining cooperation against free riders is third-party punishment [1, 2]. Our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, will not punish third parties even though they will do so when personally affected [3]. Until recently, little attention has been paid to how punishment and a sense of justice develop in children. Children respond to norm violations [4]. They are more likely to share with a puppet that helped another individual as opposed to one who behaved harmfully, and they show a preference for seeing a harmful doll rather than a victim punished [5]. By 6 years of age, children will pay a cost to punish fictional and real peers [6-8], and the threat of punishment will lead preschoolers to behave more generously [9]. However, little is known about what motivates a sense of justice in children. We gave 3- and 5-year-old children-the youngest ages yet tested-the opportunity to remove items and prevent a puppet from gaining a reward for second- and third-party violations (experiment 1), and we gave 3-year-olds the opportunity to restore items (experiment 2). Children were as likely to engage in third-party interventions as they were when personally affected, yet they did not discriminate among the different sources of harm for the victim. When given a range of options, 3-year-olds chose restoration over removal. It appears that a sense of justice centered on harm caused to victims emerges early in childhood and highlights the value of third-party interventions for human cooperation. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
Previous research has shown that the majority of 8-year-old children share valuable resources equally with others, whereas 4-year-olds are more likely to favor themselves in their sharing allocations. In this study, we examine whether these patterns of sharing behavior are affected by the needs of the recipient or by the recipient’s previous moral or immoral actions. One-hundred and sixty 4- and 8-yearold children had the opportunity to share stickers with hypothetical recipients who were assigned varying characteristics. For both age groups, sharing increased when recipients were needy (i.e., feels sad or has few toys) and morally deserving (i.e., shares with other children and does not push). The differentiation of sharing based on recipient characteristics increased between 4 and 8 years of age, with 8-year-olds also demonstrating decreased sharing when recipients were morally undeserving (i.e., pushes other children and does not share). Our findings provide evidence that children show increased sharing with recipients who are morally deserving and those who demonstrate need. This suggests that children indirectly reciprocate others’ past moral behavior and behave more altruistically towards those with higher need.
Article
The human tendency to impose costs on those who have behaved antisocially towards third parties (third-party punishment) has a formative influence on societies, yet very few studies of the development of this tendency exist. In most studies where young children have punished, participants have imposed costs on puppets, leaving open the question as to whether young children punish in real third-party situations. Here, five-year-olds were given the opportunity to allocate desirable or unpleasant items to antisocial and neutral adults, who were presented as real and shown on video. Neutral individuals were almost always allocated only desirable items. Antisocial individuals were instead usually allocated unpleasant items, as long as participants were told they would give anonymously. Most participants who were instead told they would give in person did not allocate unpleasant items, although a minority did so. This indicates that the children interpreted the situation as real, and that whereas they genuinely desired to punish antisocial adults, they did not usually dare do so in person. Boys punished more frequently than girls. The willingness of preschoolers to spontaneously engage in third-party punishment, occasionally even risking the social costs of antagonizing an anti-social adult, demonstrates a deep-seated early-developing punitive sentiment in humans. Aggr. Behav. 9999:XX–XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Book
Moral Development and Reality: Beyond the Theories of Kohlberg and Hoffman explores the nature of moral development, social behavior, and human interconnectedness. By comparing, contrasting, and going beyond the works of pre-eminent theorists Lawrence Kohlberg and Martin Hoffman, author John C. Gibbs addresses fundamental questions: What is morality? Can we speak validly of moral development? Is the moral motivation of behavior primarily a matter of justice or of empathy? Does moral development, including moments of moral inspiration, reflect a deeper reality?
Article
Evolutionary theorists argue that cultural evolution has harnessed various aspects of our evolved psychology to create a variety of different mechanisms for sustaining social norms, including those related to large-scale cooperation. One of these mechanisms, costly punishment, has emerged in experiments as an effective means to sustain cooperation in some societies. If this view is correct, individuals’ willingness to engage in the costly punishment of norm violators should be culturally transmittable, and applicable to both prosocial and anti-social behaviors (to any social norm). Since much existing work shows that norm-based prosocial behavior in experiments develops substantially during early and middle childhood, we tested 245 3- to 8-year olds in a simplified Third Party Punishment Game to investigate whether children would imitate a model’s decision to punish, at a personal cost, both unequal and equal offers. Our study showed that children, regardless of their age, imitate the costly punishment of both equal and unequal offers, and the rates of imitation increase (not decrease) with age. However, only older children imitate not-punishing for both equal and unequal offers. These findings highlight the potential role of cultural transmission in the stabilization or de-stabilization of costly punishment in a population.
Article
Prosocial behavior first appears in the second year of life. How can prosociality so early in life be explained? One possibility is that infants possess specialized cognitive and/or social capacities that drive its emergence. A second possibility is that prosocial behavior emerges out of infants' shared activities and relationships with others. These possibilities have motivated a number of current explanatory efforts, with a focus on two complementary questions. First, what is evolutionarily prepared in the very young child and how does it give rise to prosocial behavior? Second, how do proximal mechanisms, including social experiences, contribute to the early development of prosociality? The papers in this special issue represent some of the most recent work on these questions. They highlight a diverse array of new methods and bring them to bear on the nature and development of early prosocial understanding and behavior.
Article
Inequalities are everywhere, yet little is known about how children respond to people affected by inequalities. This article explores two responses-minimizing inequalities and favoring those who are advantaged by them. In Studies 1a (N = 37) and 1b (N = 38), 4- and 5-year-olds allocated a resource to a disadvantaged recipient, but judged advantaged recipients more positively. In Studies (N = 38) and (N = 74), a delay occurred between seeing the inequality and allocating resources, or stating a preference, during which time participants forgot who was initially more advantaged. Children then favored advantaged recipients on the preference and resource allocation measures, suggesting an implicit "affective tagging" mechanism drives the tendency to favor the advantaged. In contrast, reducing inequalities through resource allocation appears to require explicit reasoning.
Article
The early development of prosocial behavior has recently become a major topic in developmental psychology. Although findings on the early presence of prosocial tendencies in infants and toddlers have received much attention, and the examination of their subsequent developmental pathways have fostered ample research, little is known about the mechanisms and motives subserving the first emergence of these prosocial actions. This article introduces and reviews different theoretical approaches and evaluates them in light of recent findings. It concludes that the various forms of early prosocial behaviour are related to different social-cognitive mechanisms and are underpinned by various motives.
Article
Recent research has produced new insights into the early development of social cognition and social learning. Even very young children learn and understand social activities as governed by conventional norms that (a) are arbitrary and shared by the community, (b) have normative force and apply to all participants, and (c) are valid in context-relative ways. Importantly, such understanding is revealed both in the fact that children themselves follow the norms, and in the fact that they actively enforce them toward third parties. Human social cognition thus has a fundamental normative dimension that begins early. This norm psychology plausibly evolved due to its role in stabilizing group coordination and cooperation, and is one of the foundations of what is uniquely human social learning and culture.
Article
Preschoolers' (N= 112) judgments about hypothetical and actual moral and conventional transgressions were examined. Equal numbers of boys and girls at 2 ages (3 and 4 years old) either made judgments about 8 hypothetical moral and conventional transgressions or were interviewed on the same dimensions about 8 naturally occurring moral and conventional transgressions they witnessed in their preschools. Children judged both hypothetical and actual moral transgressions to be more serious, punishable, generalizably wrong, and independent of rules and authority than conventional transgressions. Regardless of domain, hypothetical transgressions were judged to be more wrong independent of rules than actual transgressions, and hypothetical (but not actual) moral transgressions were judged to be more independent of rules than conventional transgressions. 3-year-old girls judged the wrongness of actual moral transgressions to be more independent of authority than did 3-year-old boys. Similar findings were obtained when hypothetical and actual transgressions were matched, and domain differences were still obtained when individual items were examined. Findings are discussed in terms of previous research on preschoolers' conceptions of rules and transgressions.
Article
In two studies 3-year-olds’ understanding of the context-specificity of normative rules was investigated through games of pretend play. In the first study, children protested against a character who joined a pretend game but treated the target object according to its real function. However, they did not protest when she performed the same action without having first joined the game. In the second study, children protested when the character mixed up an object's pretend identities between two different pretend games. However, they did not protest when she performed the same pretend action in its correct game context. Thus, the studies show that young children see the pretence–reality distinction, and the distinction between different pretence identities, as normative. More generally, the results of these studies demonstrate young children's ability to enforce normative rules in their pretence and to do so context-specifically.
Article
Elucidating how inequity aversion (a tendency to dislike and correct unequal outcomes) functions as one develops is important to understanding more complex fairness considerations in adulthood. Although previous research has demonstrated that adults and children reduce inequity, it is unclear if people are actually responding negatively to inequity or if people dislike others getting more than them (motivated by social comparison) and like to share maximal resources, especially with those who have few resources (motivated by social welfare preferences). In order to evaluate if children are truly averse to inequity, we had 3- to 8-year-old children distribute resources to 3rd parties and found that 6- to 8-year-old children would rather throw a resource in the trash than distribute unequally, suggesting that concerns with equity can trump concerns with maximal sharing. We also demonstrated that children's reactions were not based on wanting to avoid upsetting the recipients or based on a preference for visual symmetry and that children will even throw away a resource that could have gone to themselves in order to avoid inequity. These results demonstrate the existence of inequity aversion in children, provide a new method for studying inequity aversion specifically, and suggest the need for new models to explain why inequity aversion may have evolved.
Article
To test young children's false belief theory of mind in a morally relevant context, two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, children (N = 162) at 3.5, 5.5, and 7.5 years of age were administered three tasks: prototypic moral transgression task, false belief theory of mind task (ToM), and an "accidental transgressor" task, which measured a morally-relevant false belief theory of mind (MoToM). Children who did not pass false belief ToM were more likely to attribute negative intentions to an accidental transgressor than children who passed false belief ToM, and to use moral reasons when blaming the accidental transgressor. In Experiment 2, children (N = 46) who did not pass false belief ToM viewed it as more acceptable to punish the accidental transgressor than did participants who passed false belief ToM. Findings are discussed in light of research on the emergence of moral judgment and theory of mind.
Article
We investigated children's moral behaviour in situations in which a third party was harmed (the test case for possession of agent-neutral moral norms). A 3-year-old and two puppets each created a picture or clay sculpture, after which one puppet left the room. In the Harm condition, the remaining (actor) puppet then destroyed the absent (recipient) puppet's picture or sculpture. In a Control condition, the actor acted similarly but in a way that did not harm the recipient. Children protested during the actor's actions, and, upon the recipient's return, tattled on the actor and behaved prosocially towards the recipient more in the Harm than in the Control condition. This is the first study to show that children as young as 3 years of age actively intervene in third-party moral transgressions.
Article
Connectedness and autonomy support in the parent-child relationship are constructs that emerge from object relations and attachment theories but that overlap with other commonly studied qualities of parent-child relationships to provide a unifying focus for research in this domain. In this study, these constructs were examined in relation to children's relational competence, including socioemotional orientation, friendship, and peer acceptance. Semistructured conversations between mothers and their 5-year-olds (N = 192) were videotaped at home and rated for (a) connectedness between the members of the dyad and (b) the parent' s support for the child's autonomy. Results showed that connectedness was correlated with children's socioemotional orientations, number of mutual friendships, and peer acceptance and that the relation between parent-child connectedness and children's peer relationships was mediated by children's prosocial-empathic orientation. Implications of these findings for theories that link parent-child relationships to the development of relational competence in children are discussed.
Article
The present longitudinal research demonstrates robust contributions of early prosocial behavior to children's developmental trajectories in academic and social domains. Both prosocial and aggressive behaviors in early childhood were tested as predictors of academic achievement and peer relations in adolescence 5 years later. Prosocialness included cooperating, helping, sharing, and consoling, and the measure of antisocial aspects included proneness to verbal and physical aggression. Prosocialness had a strong positive impact on later academic achievement and social preferences, but early aggression had no significant effect on either outcome. The conceptual model accounted for 35% of variance in later academic achievement, and 37% of variance in social preferences. Additional analysis revealed that early academic achievement did not contribute to later academic achievement after controlling for effects of early prosocialness. Possible mediating processes by which prosocialness may affect academic achievement and other socially desirable developmental outcomes are proposed.
Article
In two studies, the authors investigated 2- and 3-year-old children's awareness of the normative structure of conventional games. In the target conditions, an experimenter showed a child how to play a simple rule game. After the child and the experimenter had played for a while, a puppet came (controlled by a 2nd experimenter), asked to join in, and then performed an action that constituted a mistake in the game. In control conditions, the puppet performed the exact same action as in the experimental conditions, but the context was different such that this act did not constitute a mistake. Children's normative responses to the puppet's acts (e.g., protest, critique, or teaching) were scored. Both age groups performed more normative responses in the target than in the control conditions, but the 3-year-olds did so on a more explicit level. These studies demonstrate in a particularly strong way that even very young children have some grasp of the normative structure of conventional activities.
Social and moral development in early childhood
  • M Killen
Killen, M. (1991). Social and moral development in early childhood. In W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gewirtz (Eds.). Handbook of moral behavior and development (Vol. 2, pp. 115-138). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Beyond good and evil: What motivations underlie children's prosocial behavior?
  • A Martin
  • K R Olson
Martin, A., & Olson, K. R. (2015). Beyond good and evil: What motivations underlie children's prosocial behavior? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10, 159-175.
Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other species can teach us
  • K L Mulvey
  • A Hitti
  • M Killen
Mulvey, K. L., Hitti, A., & Killen, M. (2013). Intentionality, morality, and exclusion: How children navigate the social world. In M. Banaji & S. Gelman (Eds.), Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other species can teach us (pp. 377-384). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.