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Pat Kanngiesser publishes PLoS ONE paper showing surprising degree of fairness in toddlers

3 September 2012

Very young children are typically thought to be egocentric and to struggle with sharing with others, particularly when this means a potential loss to themselves.

Very young children are typically thought to be egocentric and to struggle with sharing with others, particularly when this means a potential loss to themselves.  However, in a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, Patricia Kanngiesser and Felix Warneken (Harvard University) have shown that, despite this egocentric bias, 3-year-olds do show a degree of fairness when sharing resources.  In particular, they give a greater proportion of a sharable reward to a 3rd party who put more effort into a joint task than they give to a 3rd party who put less work into winning the reward with them.

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

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