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Title:Developmental underpinnings of expectations of equity and attitudes toward resource disparities
Author(s):Buyukozer Dawkins, Melody
Director of Research:Baillargeon, Renee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baillargeon, Renee
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cohen, Dov; Fisher, Cynthia; Hyde, Dan C; Stern, Chadly D
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
infant cognition
social cognition, fairness
developmental psychology
resource distribution
resource allocation
Abstract:Five experiments investigated the developmental roots of expectations and attitudes toward fairness and equity, focusing on two major questions: 1) do infants have an equity-based sense of fairness in allocation-related contexts in which they can evaluate equal outcomes as unfair, and 2) do toddlers hold differential attitudes toward individuals with differing amounts of resources? Experiments 1 through 3 examined infants’ equity-based sense of fairness in the context of rewards, punishments, and preexisting resources. Experiments 4 and 5 examined whether toddlers respond differently to individuals with disparate preexisting resources. In Experiment 1, 10-month-old infants expected an experimenter to allocate praise based on work input, and they accordingly found equal praise for unequal work and unequal praise for equal work unexpected. In Experiment 2, 21-month-old infants expected an experimenter to punish individuals based on their misdeeds. Infants’ expectations were violated when individuals who did and individuals who did not misbehave were punished equally. In Experiment 3, 21-month-old infants expected an experimenter to give new windfall resources to an individual with no resources as opposed to an individual who already had similar resources. Infants thus found it unexpected when the experimenter either gave the new resources to the resource-rich individual or divided them equally between the resource-rich and the resource-poor individuals. In Experiment 4, 25-month-old toddlers endorsed the preferences and opinions of a resource-rich individual over those of a resource-poor individual, across multiple scenarios. In Experiment 5, 25-month-old toddlers no longer aligned with the resource-rich individual after listening to short stories that provided personal details about only the resource-poor individual or both the resource-poor and resource-rich individuals. In contrast, toddlers who listened to a story about only the resource-rich individual continued to align with that individual. Together, these results painted a rich and sophisticated picture of the development of expectations and attitudes in the domain of fairness. The first set of studies showed that infants could make merit-based judgments in the context of rewards and punishments. Moreover, they attended to individuals’ preexisting resources and used this information when forming judgments about what were fair resource-allocation outcomes. Strikingly, although infants displayed these sophisticated expectations that ensured fairness and the welfare of those with fewer resources, toddlers nevertheless endorsed the preferences and opinions of those who possessed more resources. Finally, a simple intervention that humanized the resource-poor was enough to overcome this bias toward the resource-rich.
Issue Date:2020-04-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Melody Buyukozer Dawkins
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-27
Date Deposited:2020-05

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