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Infants Distinguish Antisocial Actions Directed towards Fair and Unfair Agents

Journal article
Authors Marek Meristo
L. Surian
Published in Plos One
Volume 9
Issue 10
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.011...
Keywords YOUNG-CHILDREN, PUNISHMENT, GAME, INEQUALITY, MORALITY, BEHAVIOR, REACT, Multidisciplinary Sciences
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

Three experiments provide evidence of an incipient sense of fairness in preverbal infants. Ten-month-old infants were shown cartoon videos with two agents, the 'donors', who distributed resources to two identical recipients. One donor always distributed the goods equally, while the other performed unequal distributions by giving everything to one recipient. In the test phase, a third agent hit or took resources away from either the fair or the unfair donor. We found that infants looked longer when the antisocial actions were directed towards the unfair rather than the fair donor. These findings support the view that infants are able to evaluate agents based on their distributive actions and suggest that the foundations of human socio-moral competence are acquired independently of parental feedback and linguistic experience.

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