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Svetlova, Margarita (2013) DEVELOPMENT OF FAIRNESS UNDERSTANDING IN PRESCHOOLERS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Humans value fairness in themselves and others, but controversies exist as to how to allocate resources fairly. This dissertation explores ontogenetic roots of fairness by assessing preschoolers’ responses in situations where different principles of distributive justice are put in conflict. Study 1 asked whether 3- and 5-year-old children are able to take others’ subjective needs into account when distributing resources. Children allocated rewards to two recipients, one of whom was needier than the other, in two conditions: with an even and an odd number of resources. Results show that 3-year-olds use the equality principle as a default, but can distribute on the basis of need when resources cannot be divided equally. By 5 years of age, children’s concern about others’ needs is stronger and can trump the equality principle. Study 2 examined how children balance considerations of universal fairness with their own self-serving motives. Three- and 5-year-olds had to choose between two distributors, one of whom had previously been fair to everyone and the other had favored one of the recipients. Children either observed the distributions as a third party or served as favored recipients themselves. Results show that at 3 year of age, children only prefer fair distributors in third-party contexts. By age 5, children choose fair partners even when it conflicts with their own interests. This developmental period thus appears to be the time when norms of fairness grow in importance and can override children’s self-regarding motives.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrownell, Celiabrownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberCampbell, Susansbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Committee MemberJohnson, Carljohnson@education.pitt.eduJOHNSON
Committee MemberStrauss, Markstrauss@pitt.eduSTRAUSS
Date: 18 October 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 March 2013
Approval Date: 18 October 2013
Submission Date: 7 August 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 116
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: moral development, socio-emotional development, fairness, preschoolers
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2013 14:37
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2018 05:15


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