“Who is worthy of my generosity?” Recipient characteristics and the development of children’s sharing

Author: Malti, Tina; Gummerum, Michaela; Ongley, Sophia; Chaparro, Maria; Nola, Marta; Bae, Na Young

Description: Previous research has shown that the majority of 8-year-old children share valuable resources equally with others, whereas 4-year-olds are more likely to favor themselves in their sharing allocations. In this study, we examine whether these patterns of sharing behavior are affected by the needs of the recipient or by the recipient’s previous moral or immoral actions. One-hundred and sixty 4- and 8-year-old children had the opportunity to share stickers with hypothetical recipients who were assigned varying characteristics. For both age groups, sharing increased when recipients were needy (i.e., feels sad or has few toys) and morally deserving (i.e., shares with other children and does not push). The differentiation of sharing based on recipient characteristics increased between 4 and 8 years of age, with 8-year-olds also demonstrating decreased sharing when recipients were morally undeserving (i.e., pushes other children and does not share). Our findings provide evidence that children show increased sharing with recipients who are morally deserving and those who demonstrate need. This suggests that children indirectly reciprocate others’ past moral behavior and behave more altruistically towards those with higher need.

Subject headings: Children; Sharing; Behavior; Recipient characteristics

Publication year: 2016

Journal or book title: International Journal of Behavioral Development

Volume: 40

Issue: 1

Pages: 31-40

Find the full text: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0165025414567007?journalCode=jbda

Find more like this one (cited by): https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=13919989456153808854&as_sdt=1000005&sciodt=0,16&hl=en

Serial number: 3775

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