Young children, but not chimpanzees, are averse to disadvantageous and advantageous inequities.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The age at which young children show an aversion to inequitable resource distributions, especially those favoring themselves, is unclear. It is also unclear whether great apes, as humans' nearest evolutionary relatives, have an aversion to inequitable resource distributions at all. Using a common methodology across species and child ages, the current two studies found that 3- and 4-year-old children (N=64) not only objected when they received less than a collaborative partner but also sacrificed to equalize when they received more. They did neither of these things in a nonsocial situation, demonstrating the fundamental role of social comparison. In contrast, chimpanzees (N=9) showed no aversion to inequitable distributions, only a concern for maximizing their own resources, with no differences between social and nonsocial conditions. These results underscore the unique importance for humans, even early in ontogeny, for treating others fairly, presumably as a way of becoming a cooperative member of one's cultural group.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ulber, J; Hamann, K; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • March 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 155 /

Start / End Page

  • 48 - 66

PubMed ID

  • 27918977

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0457

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0965

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.10.013


  • eng