Paper - Normative expectations about fairness: The development of a charity norm in preschoolers

  • Metadata:
    • author: Monika W├Ârle, Markus Paulus
    • title: Normative expectations about fairness: The development of a charity norm in preschoolers
    • year: 20172017

    • url: Weblink
  • Background:
    • Preschoolers (Li , Spitzer, & Olson, 2014) and elementary school children (Kienbaum & Wilkening, 2009; Shutts, Brey, Dornbusch, Slywotzky, & Olson, 2016) have shown charitable behavior
    • Prosocial norms are an important factor for positive behavior (Clark & Ladd, 2000)
    • In order to find the basis of charitable behavior, a distinction needs to be made between the actions and the norms of a child
    • The child's verbal protest to a witnessed situation is a fitting measure for normative expectations, as self interest can be eliminated as a confounder
  • Research Question:
    • Do preschoolers have a norm of charity?
    • Hypothesis: Older preschoolers habe a norm of charity while younger preschoolers do not.
  • Method:
    • 81 children ranging from 3 - 6 years
    • Two agents are presented: One follows the norm of charity by giving more resources to a poor puppet compared to a rich puppet. The other agent breaks the norm by furthering the rich puppets wealth. The child witnesses this scenario.
    • 3 measures are taken:
      • verbal reaction - protest or affirmation?
      • reward and punishment, operationalized by giving out good and bad tasting cookies to the puppets
      • rating of the behavior on a scale
  • Results:
    • Younger children did not make a distinction between the two groups
    • Older children showed more verbal protest against the norm breaking puppet and more affirmation towards the charitable puppet
      • They also gave more tasty cookies to the charitable puppet
    • The cut of point for the differentiation was at 60 months of age
    • The "Rich-more" puppet was rated worse than the "Poor-more" puppet, however, there was no correlation between the protest/affirmation behavior and the rating (-> spontaneous reaction different to post hoc reaction)
  • Interpretation:
    • Children above the age of 5 have a norm of charity, but younger kids don't