Infants expect ingroup support to override fairness when resources are limited

Lin Bian, Stephanie Sloane, Renée Baillargeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Recent research suggests that the foundations of human moral cognition include abstract principles of fairness and ingroup support. We examined which principle 1.5-y-old infants and 2.5-y-old toddlers would prioritize when the two were pitted against each other. In violation-of-expectation tasks, a puppet distributor brought in either two (two-item condition) or three (three-item condition) items and faced two potential recipients, an ingroup and an outgroup puppet. In each condition, the distributor allocated two items in one of three events: She gave one item each to the ingroup and outgroup puppets (equal event), she gave both items to the ingroup puppet (favors-ingroup event), or she gave both items to the outgroup puppet (favors-outgroup event). Children in the two-item condition looked significantly longer at the equal or favors-outgroup event than at the favors-ingroup event, suggesting that when there were only enough items for the group to which the distributor belonged, children detected a violation if she gave any of the items to the outgroup puppet. In the three-item condition, in contrast, children looked significantly longer at the favors-ingroup or favors-outgroup event than at the equal event, suggesting that when there were enough items for all puppets present, children detected a violation if the distributor chose to give two items to one recipient and none to the other, regardless of which recipient was advantaged. Thus, infants and toddlers expected fairness to prevail when there were as many items as puppets, but they expected ingroup support to trump fairness otherwise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2705-2710
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume115
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Fairness
  • Infancy
  • Ingroup support
  • Moral cognition
  • Resource allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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