Procedural justice in children: Preschoolers accept unequal resource distributions if the procedure provides equal opportunities.
When it is not possible to distribute resources equitably to everyone, people look for an equitable or just procedure. In the current study, we investigated young children's sense of procedural justice. We tested 32 triads of 5-year-olds in a new resource allocation game. Triads were confronted with three unequal reward packages and then agreed on a procedure to allocate them among themselves. To allocate the rewards, they needed to use a "wheel of fortune." Half of the groups played with a fair wheel (where each child had an equal chance of obtaining each reward package), and the other half played with an unfair wheel. We analyzed children's interactions when using the wheel and conducted an interview with each child after the game was over. Children using the unfair wheel often decided to change the rules of the game, and they also rated it as an unfair procedure in the interview. In contrast, children who played with the fair wheel were mostly accepting of both the outcome and the procedure. Overall, we found that children as young as preschool age are already sensitive not only to distributive justice but to procedural justice as well.
Grocke, P; Rossano, F; Tomasello, M
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