The ontogeny of fairness in seven societies.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Blake, P R; McAuliffe, K; Corbit, J; Callaghan, T C; Barry, O; Bowie, A; Kleutsch, L; Kramer, K L; Ross, E; Vongsachang, H; Wrangham, R; Warneken, F
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Nature
Volume: 528
Issue: 7581
Pagination: 258-61
Date Published: 2015 Dec 10
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1476-4687
Keywords: Adolescent, Age Factors, Child, Child, Preschool, Cooperative Behavior, Culture, Decision making, Female, Humans, Male, Social Behavior, Social change

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.

DOI: 10.1038/nature15703
Alternate Journal: Nature