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J Exp Child Psychol. 2010 Jan-Feb;105(1-2):130-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Oct 25.

Theory of mind enhances preference for fairness.

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Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.


The purpose of the current study was to examine the role of theory of mind in fairness-related behavior in preschoolers and to introduce a tool for examining fairness-related behavior in children. A total of 68 preschoolers played the Ultimatum Game in a face-to-face setting. Acquisition of theory of mind was defined as the understanding of false beliefs using the Sally-Anne task. The results showed that preschoolers who had acquired theory of mind proposed higher mean offers than children who had not acquired theory of mind. These findings imply that the ability to infer the mental states of others plays an important role in fairness-related behavior.

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