Chinese Preschoolers’ Resource Allocation in the Face of Existing Inequality Under Collaborative and Noncollaborative Contexts

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Abstract

The current study investigated the stage at which Chinese preschoolers started considering recipients’ material welfare and minimizing existing inequalities under both noncollaborative and collaborative contexts. Also, it analyzed how they behaved when recipients’ material welfare was in conflict with merit or equality rule. Experiment 1 found that 4-year-old children allocated resources to the poor rather than the rich character only under the noncollaborative context but not under the collaborative context, in which they had observed these 2 characters working together to finish a task. By contrast, 5-year-old children started doing so under both collaborative and noncollaborative contexts. When there was conflict between recipients’ material welfare and merit in Experiment 2, 6-year-old children did not show any preference for either material welfare or merit, and they made equal or almost equal distributions. Without collaboration information, Experiment 3 further revealed that the children aged from 4 to 6 y preferred equal distribution to resource allocation considering recipients’ material welfare. These findings have been discussed in terms of contextual information and cultural influences.

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