Merit overrules theory of mind when young children share resources with others

Stack, Jim and Romero-Rivas, Carlos (2020) Merit overrules theory of mind when young children share resources with others. PLoS ONE, 15 (1). ISSN e 0227375

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Abstract

Non-windfall approaches to sharing demonstrate pre-schoolers’ sensitivity to merit-based distributions of resources. However, such studies have not considered (1) whether epistemic aspects of task performance, such as the relative accuracy of a co-worker, influences

pre-schoolers’ rates of sharing; and (2) how children’s emerging social understanding may impact resource allocations in high- and low-merit situations. These issues are of theoretical

importance as they may provide new information about the scope of pre-schooler’s merit-based sharing behaviours. Moreover, as social understanding has been related to both

increases and decreases in pre-schoolers’ levels of sharing, providing a merit-based assessment of this relationship would allow for a concurrent assessment of recent conflict-
ing findings. In this study, three- and four-year-olds (N = 131) participated in an unexpected transfer task which was followed by a resource generation picture card naming task with a reliable or unreliable (high- or low-merit) co-worker (a hand puppet). The results showed that children engage in more generous rates of sharing with a high-merit co-worker. This suggests that merit-based sharing is apparent in young children and extends to epistemic aspects of task performance. However, such sharing was constrained by a self-serving bias. Finally, we were not able to detect an effect of children’s performance on the false belief task on sharing behaviours in the high- or low-merit trials, suggesting that these behaviours may not be modulated by social understanding during early childhood.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: © 2020 Stack and Romero-Rivas. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Philippa Williams
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2020 11:19
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 09:47
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3000

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