Non-egalitarian allocations among preschool peers in a face-to-face bargaining task.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In face-to-face bargaining tasks human adults almost always agree on an equal split of resources. This is due to mutually recognized fairness and equality norms. Early developmental studies on sharing and equality norms found that egalitarian allocations of resources are not common before children are 5 or 6 years old. However, recent studies have shown that in some face-to face collaborative situations, or when recipients express their desires, children at much younger ages choose equal allocations. We investigated the ability of 3.5 and 5-year-olds to negotiate face-to-face, whether to collaborate to obtain an equal or an unequal distribution of rewards. We hypothesized that the face-to-face interaction and interdependency between partners would facilitate egalitarian outcomes at both ages. In the first experiment we found that 5-year-olds were more egalitarian than 3.5-year-olds, but neither of the age classes shared equally. In the second experiment, in which we increased the magnitude of the inequality, we found that children at both ages mostly agreed on the unequal distribution. These results show that communication and face-to-face interactions are not sufficient to guarantee equal allocations at 3-5 years of age. These results add to previous findings suggesting that in the context of non-collaboratively produced resources it is only after 5 years of age that children use equality norms to allocate resources.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Melis, AP; Floedl, A; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • January 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 3

Start / End Page

  • e0120494 -

PubMed ID

  • 25786250

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4364954

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0120494


  • eng