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Do infants detect indirect reciprocity?

Journal article
Authors Marek Meristo
L. Surian
Published in Cognition
Volume 129
Issue 1
Pages 102-113
ISSN 0010-0277
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 102-113
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013...
Keywords Reciprocity, Fairness, Theory of mind, Social cognition, Infancy, ATTRIBUTING FALSE BELIEFS, YOUNG-CHILDREN, SHARING BEHAVIOR, OTHERS, EVOLUTION, COOPERATION, ALTRUISM, PUNISHMENT, FAIRNESS, 18-MONTH-OLDS
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

In social interactions involving indirect reciprocity, agent A acts prosocially towards B and this prompts C to act prosocially towards A. This happens because A's actions enhanced its reputation in the eyes of third parties. Indirect reciprocity may have been of central importance in the evolution of morality as one of the major mechanisms leading to the selection of helping and fair attitudes. Here we show that 10-month-old infants expect third parties to act positively towards fair donors who have distributed attractive resources equally between two recipients, rather than toward unfair donors who made unequal distributions. Infants' responses were dependent on the reciprocator's perceptual exposure to previous relevant events: they expected the reciprocator to reward the fair donor only when it had seen the distributive actions performed by the donors. We propose that infants were able to generate evaluations of agents that were based on the fairness of their distributive actions and to generate expectations about the social preferences of informed third parties. ?(C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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