Developmental Brown Bag
Craig Smith - Post-doctoral Fellow, Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan
Monday, October 08, 2012,
12:00 pm 1:00 pm
3447 East Hall
Preschoolers can weigh merit when allocating desirable resources (Kanngiesser & Warneken, 2012), but are biased toward splitting such resources equally (e.g., Baumard, Mascaro, & Chevallier, 2011). With increasing age, children become more likely to distribute desirable resources based on merit, shifting from an equality-favoring to an equity-favoring stance.
Do young children adopt an equity-favoring stance when distributing undesirable things akin to punishments? Or do they prefer, as they do with with positive resources, to spread bad stuff around equally? The present study explores this question. Children aged 4-9 responded to allocation questions that were based in a fictional classroom setting. Participants were asked to allocate jobs - rewarding or unpleasant - to pairs of students, with some scenarios involving one student being more deserving of a reward or a penalty. After making their own allocations, participants were also asked to judge allocations of rewards and punishments made by the teacher. The results thus far support the notion that young children are sensitive to merit, but also show an equality-favoring bias. However, children diverged from this bias where collective punishment was concerned. This study sheds new light on how children think about both distributive and "criminal" justice in the space of a single study.
Craig moved to Ann Arbor with his family at the end of August. He most recently held a College Fellowship at Harvard University, a teaching-focused postdoctoral fellowship. Before that, Craig did his doctoral work with Dr. Paul Harris at Harvard. His research interests include: the development of emotion understanding, the development of fairness concepts, affective forecasting in childhood, and children's use of other's verbal input. Craig bikes to work, and has only been cursed at by an Ann Arbor driver once thus far. This differs, in statistically-significant fashion, from the average of 23.42 curses per month he received while biking to work in the Boston area. He is slowly adjusting his negativity bias and level of defensiveness accordingly.