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Nature. 2015 Dec 10;528(7581):258-61. doi: 10.1038/nature15703. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

The ontogeny of fairness in seven societies.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological &Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467, USA.
4
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
5
Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada.
6
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2W5, Canada.
7
University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Faculty of Science and Technology for Education and Training, BP 5036 Dakar Fann, Senegal.
8
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
9
Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA.

Abstract

A sense of fairness plays a critical role in supporting human cooperation. Adult norms of fair resource sharing vary widely across societies, suggesting that culture shapes the acquisition of fairness behaviour during childhood. Here we examine how fairness behaviour develops in children from seven diverse societies, testing children from 4 to 15 years of age (nā€‰=ā€‰866 pairs) in a standardized resource decision task. We measured two key aspects of fairness decisions: disadvantageous inequity aversion (peer receives more than self) and advantageous inequity aversion (self receives more than a peer). We show that disadvantageous inequity aversion emerged across all populations by middle childhood. By contrast, advantageous inequity aversion was more variable, emerging in three populations and only later in development. We discuss these findings in relation to questions about the universality and cultural specificity of human fairness.

PMID:
26580018
DOI:
10.1038/nature15703
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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