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Children are sensitive to norms of giving

McAuliffe, K; Raihani, NJ; Dunham, Y; (2017) Children are sensitive to norms of giving. Cognition , 167 pp. 151-159. 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.006. Green open access

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Abstract

People across societies engage in costly sharing, but the extent of such sharing shows striking cultural variation, highlighting the importance of local norms in shaping generosity. Despite this acknowledged role for norms, it is unclear when they begin to exert their influence in development. Here we use a Dictator Game to investigate the extent to which 4- to 9-year-old children are sensitive to selfish (give 20%) and generous (give 80%) norms. Additionally, we varied whether children were told how much other children give (descriptive norm) or what they should give according to an adult (injunctive norm). Results showed that children generally gave more when they were exposed to a generous norm. However, patterns of compliance varied with age. Younger children were more likely to comply with the selfish norm, suggesting a licensing effect. By contrast, older children were more influenced by the generous norm, yet capped their donations at 50%, perhaps adhering to a pre-existing norm of equality. Children were not differentially influenced by descriptive or injunctive norms, suggesting a primacy of norm content over norm format. Together, our findings indicate that while generosity is malleable in children, normative information does not completely override pre-existing biases.

Type: Article
Title: Children are sensitive to norms of giving
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.006
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.006
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Generosity; Cooperation; Dictator game; Norms; Social cognitive development
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1538804
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