Fair Is Not Fair Everywhere.

Published

Journal Article

Distributing the spoils of a joint enterprise on the basis of work contribution or relative productivity seems natural to the modern Western mind. But such notions of merit-based distributive justice may be culturally constructed norms that vary with the social and economic structure of a group. In the present research, we showed that children from three different cultures have very different ideas about distributive justice. Whereas children from a modern Western society distributed the spoils of a joint enterprise precisely in proportion to productivity, children from a gerontocratic pastoralist society in Africa did not take merit into account at all. Children from a partially hunter-gatherer, egalitarian African culture distributed the spoils more equally than did the other two cultures, with merit playing only a limited role. This pattern of results suggests that some basic notions of distributive justice are not universal intuitions of the human species but rather culturally constructed behavioral norms.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schäfer, M; Haun, DBM; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • August 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 1252 - 1260

PubMed ID

  • 26115962

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26115962

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797615586188

Language

  • eng