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Knowing what I should, doing what I want: From selfishness to inequity aversion in young children’s sharing behavior

  • Kogut, Tehila
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    The social utility model suggests that people feel more satisfied with equal divisions of resources than from inequitable outcomes, even when the latter favors oneself. Research examining children’s behavior has shown that the tendency to share half of one’s endowment increases with age between the ages of 3 and 8. However, the satisfaction the children derive from their decisions (to share half of their endowments) has yet to be examined. I present two studies (using the dictator and ultimatum games) suggesting that young children (5–6years old) are aware of the norms of fairness but choose to act selfishly and prefer not to share. Slightly older children aged 7–8 adopt these norms in their actual behavior but do not feel happier when they share half of their endowments than when they share less than half. Finally, true inequity aversion only appears at the ages of 9–10, when children not only give more, but they correspondingly also feel better when their endowments are equally divided.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 226-236

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:1:p:226-236
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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    1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
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    7. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
    8. Neelin, Janet & Sonnenschein, Hugo & Spiegel, Matthew, 1988. "A Further Test of Noncooperative Bargaining Theory: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 824-36, September.
    9. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
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