Goldstone Research Unit

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2012

Publication Source

Developmental Psychology

Volume

48

Issue

2

Start Page

492

Last Page

498

DOI

10.1037/a0026598

Abstract

Classic studies in developmental psychology demonstrate a relatively late development of equity, with children as old as 6 or even 8–10 years failing to follow the logic of merit—that is, giving more to those who contributed more. Following Piaget (1932), these studies have been taken to indicate that judgments of justice develop slowly and follow a stagelike progression, starting off with simple rules (e.g., equality: everyone receives the same) and only later on in development evolving into more complex ones (e.g., equity: distributions match contributions). Here, we report 2 experiments with 3- and 4-year-old children (N = 195) that contradict this constructivist account. Our results demonstrate that children as young as 3 years old are able to take merit into account by distributing tokens according to individual contributions but that this ability may be hidden by a preference for equality.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2011 American Psychological Association. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

Keywords

fairness, cooperation, development, morality, equity

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Date Posted: 18 December 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.