Friday, December 04, 2015

Cultural specificity of human fairness.

Blake et al. do an interesting experiment on how sensitive children are to inequality. They asked one child in a pair or to accept or reject an offer of Skittles on behalf of both of them. Between ages 4 and 15 offers that were equal for both children were accepted, but older children often refected offers that would provide more Skittles to their partner. The age at which children started rejecting such offers varied across the seven countries studied (Canada, India, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Uganda, USA) suggesting different times for development of a sense of fairness. In three countries—the United States, Canada, and Uganda—some older children also rejected offers that were unfair to their partner.
A sense of fairness plays a critical role in supporting human cooperation. Adult norms of fair resource sharing vary widely across societies, suggesting that culture shapes the acquisition of fairness behaviour during childhood. Here we examine how fairness behaviour develops in children from seven diverse societies, testing children from 4 to 15 years of age (n = 866 pairs) in a standardized resource decision task. We measured two key aspects of fairness decisions: disadvantageous inequity aversion (peer receives more than self) and advantageous inequity aversion (self receives more than a peer). We show that disadvantageous inequity aversion emerged across all populations by middle childhood. By contrast, advantageous inequity aversion was more variable, emerging in three populations and only later in development. We discuss these findings in relation to questions about the universality and cultural specificity of human fairness.

No comments:

Post a Comment