Young children share rewards based on merit

August 29, 2012

Young children take merit into account when sharing resources, according to research published Aug. 29 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

The study, conducted by Patricia Kanngiesser and Felix Warneken at Harvard University, showed that 3 and 5-year-olds considered both the amount of work they contributed themselves and their partner's contribution level when doling out rewards.

This sharing pattern is not infallible though; the researchers found that the children did have a self-serving , and few of them gave away more than half of the reward, even when their partner had worked more.

"It was long thought that young children only care about their own benefit when distributing rewards, but our findings show that they are sensitive to fairness principles like merit. Our sense of fairness thus already develops in ", says Dr. Kanngiesser.

Explore further: Collaboration encourages equal sharing in children but not in chimpanzees

More information: Kanngiesser P, Warneken F (2012) Young Children Consider Merit when Sharing Resources with Others. PLOS ONE 7(8): e43979. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043979

Related Stories

Babies know what's fair

February 16, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- “That’s not fair!” It’s a common playground complaint. But how early do children acquire this sense of fairness? Before they’re 2, says a new study. “We found that 19- and ...

Babies show sense of fairness, altruism as early as 15 months

October 7, 2011

A new study presents the first evidence that a basic sense of fairness and altruism appears in infancy. Babies as young as 15 months perceived the difference between equal and unequal distribution of food, and their awareness ...

Recommended for you

Following a friend leads to unsafe driving behavior

June 23, 2017

Have you ever tried following a friend in a car? It can stressful; if you don't keep up, you are likely to get lost. To avoid this, you may make unsafe driving manoeuvres to keep sight of the car ahead.

Tough times make for more impulsive pre-teens

June 23, 2017

The loss of a grandparent. Marital discord at home. Trouble with peers. When pre-teens are forced to deal with adverse life events such as these they tend to become more impulsive in their decision-making later in life. And ...

Video games can change your brain

June 22, 2017

Scientists have collected and summarized studies looking at how video games can shape our brains and behavior. Research to date suggests that playing video games can change the brain regions responsible for attention and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.