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Spite and Cognitive Skills in Preschoolers

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  • Elisabeth Bügelmayer
  • C. Katharina Spieß

Abstract

Although spiteful preferences play a crucial role in the development of human large-scale cooperation, there is little evidence on spiteful behavior and its determinants in children. We investigate the relationship between children's cognitive skills and spiteful behavior in a sample of 214 preschoolers aged 5-6 and their mothers. Other-regarding behavior of both mothers and children is elicited through four simple allocation decisions. A key advantage of our study is that it is carried out in a household context. Therefore, we have information about both the child's and mother's cognitive and noncognitive skills as well as health and household characteristics. We find that higher cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children. This relationship is even more pronounced among boys and possibly reflects differences in competitiveness. Moreover, we find further gender differences depending on the measure of cognitive skills and the degree of spite. These results shed light on the determinants of the development of other-regarding preferences in humans.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabeth Bügelmayer & C. Katharina Spieß, 2011. "Spite and Cognitive Skills in Preschoolers," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 404, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp404
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    Cited by:

    1. John A. List & Ragan Petrie & Anya Samek, 2021. "How Experiments with Children Inform Economics," NBER Working Papers 28825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Spite; other-regarding preferences; cognitive skills; child experiments; household survey studies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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