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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2019 May 16. doi: 10.1037/xge0000613. [Epub ahead of print]

Young children police group members at personal cost.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology.
2
Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, New York University.
3
Department of Psychology, New York University.

Abstract

Humans' evolutionary success has depended in part on their willingness to punish, at personal cost, bad actors who have not harmed them directly-a behavior known as costly third-party punishment. The present studies examined the psychological processes underlying this behavior from a developmental perspective, using a novel, naturalistic method. In these studies (ages 3-6, total N = 225), participants of all ages enacted costly punishment, and rates of punishment increased with age. In addition, younger children (ages 3-4), when in a position of authority, were more likely to punish members of their own group, whereas older children (ages 5-6) showed no group- or authority-based differences. These findings demonstrate the developmental emergence of costly punishment, and show how a sense of authority can foster the kind of group-regulatory behavior that costly punishment may have evolved to serve. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:
31094567
DOI:
10.1037/xge0000613

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