Merit overrules theory of mind when young children share resources with others

Autoři: James Stack aff001;  Carlos Romero-Rivas aff002
Působiště autorů: Department of Psychology, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, United Kingdom aff001;  Department of Evolutive and Educational Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article
prolekare.web.journal.doi_sk: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227375


Non-windfall approaches to sharing demonstrate pre-schoolers’ sensitivity to merit-based distributions of resources. However, such studies have not considered (1) whether epistemic aspects of task performance, such as the relative accuracy of a co-worker, influences pre-schoolers’ rates of sharing; and (2) how children’s emerging social understanding may impact resource allocations in high- and low-merit situations. These issues are of theoretical importance as they may provide new information about the scope of pre-schooler’s merit-based sharing behaviours. Moreover, as social understanding has been related to both increases and decreases in pre-schoolers’ levels of sharing, providing a merit-based assessment of this relationship would allow for a concurrent assessment of recent conflicting findings. In this study, three- and four-year-olds (N = 131) participated in an unexpected transfer task which was followed by a resource generation picture card naming task with a reliable or unreliable (high- or low-merit) co-worker (a hand puppet). The results showed that children engage in more generous rates of sharing with a high-merit co-worker. This suggests that merit-based sharing is apparent in young children and extends to epistemic aspects of task performance. However, such sharing was constrained by a self-serving bias. Finally, we were not able to detect an effect of children’s performance on the false belief task on sharing behaviours in the high- or low-merit trials, suggesting that these behaviours may not be modulated by social understanding during early childhood.

Klíčová slova:

Behavior – Analysis of variance – Children – Theory of mind – Motivation – Prosocial behavior – Dictator game – Ultimatum game


1. Dunfield KA. A construct divided: Prosocial behavior as helping, sharing, and comforting subtypes. Front Psychol. 2014; 5: 958. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00958 25228893

2. Blake PR, Rand DG. Currency value moderates equity preference among young children. Evol Hum Behav. 2010; 31(3): 210–218. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.06.012

3. Fehr E, Bernhard H, Rockenbach B. Egalitarianism in young children. Nature. 2008; 454: 1079–1083. doi: 10.1038/nature07155 18756249

4. Moore C. Fairness in children’s resource allocation depends on the recipient. Psychol Sci. 2009; 20: 944–948. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02378.x 19515118

5. Kanngiesser P, Warneken F. Young children consider merit when sharing resources with others. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(8): e43979. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043979 22952834

6. Melis A, Altricher K, Schneider A, Tomasello M. Allocation of resources to collaborators and free-riders in 3-year-olds. J Exp Child Psychol. 2013; 114: 364–370. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.08.006 23073366

7. Hamann K, Bender J, Tomasello M. Meritocratic sharing is based on collaboration in 3-year-olds. Dev Psychol. 2014; 50: 121–128. doi: 10.1037/a0032965 23688170

8. Hamann K, Warneken F, Greenberg JR, Tomasello M. Collaboration encourages equal sharing in children but not in chimpanzees. Nature. 2011; 476: 328–331. doi: 10.1038/nature10278 21775985

9. Warneken F, Lohse K, Melis AP, Tomasello M. Young children share the spoils after collaboration. Psychological Science. 2011; 22: 267–273. doi: 10.1177/0956797610395392 21196533

10. Cowell JM, Samek A, List J, Decety J. The curious relation between theory of mind and sharing in preschool age children. PLoS ONE. 2015; 10(2): e0117947. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117947 25658696

11. Wu Z, Su Y. How do preschoolers’ sharing behaviors relate to their theory of mind understanding? J Exp Child Psychol. 2014; 120: 73–86. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2013.11.007 24384326

12. Rizzo MT, Killen M. Theory of mind is related to children’s resource allocations in gender stereotypic contexts. Dev Psychol. 2018; 54: 510–520. doi: 10.1037/dev0000439 29083217

13. Baumard N, Mascaro O, Chevallier C. Preschoolers are able to take merit into account when distributing goods. Dev Psychol. 2012; 48: 492–498. doi: 10.1037/a0026598 22148948

14. Smith CE, Blake PR, Harris PL. I should but I won’t: Why young children endorse norms of fair sharing but do not follow them. PLoS ONE. 2013; 8(3): e59510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059510 23527210

15. Koenig M, Harris PL. Preschoolers mistrust ignorant and inaccurate speakers. Child Dev. 2005; 76: 1261–1277. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00849.x 16274439

16. Pasquini E, Corriveau KH, Koenig M, Harris PL. Preschoolers monitor the relative accuracy of informants. Dev Psychol. 2007; 43: 1216–1226. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.5.1216 17723046

17. Sloane S, Baillargeon R, Premack D. Do infants have a sense of fairness? Psychol Sci. 2012; 23: 196–204. doi: 10.1177/0956797611422072 22258431

18. Adams JS. Inequity in social exchange. In: Berkowitz L, editor. Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2). Academic Press: NY. 1965. pp. 267–299). doi: 10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60108-2

19. Tomasello M, Vaish A. Origins of human cooperation and morality. Annual Reviews of Psychology. 2013; 64: 231–255.

20. Chernyak N, Blake PR. The relationship between cognitive control, numerical accuracy, and principles of fairness. Proc Annu Conf Cogn Sci Soc. 2017; 1764–1769.

21. Schäfer M, Haun DB, Tomasello M. Fair is not fair everywhere. Psychol Sci. 2015; 26: 1252–1260. doi: 10.1177/0956797615586188 26115962

22. Zmyj N, Buttelmann D, Carpenter M, Daum MM. The reliability of a model influences 14-month-olds’ imitation. J. Exp. Child. Psychol. 2010; 106, 208–220. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2010.03.002 20427052

23. Burdett ERR, Lucas AJ, Buchsbaum D, McGuigan N, Wood LA, Whiten A. Do children copy an expert or a majority? Examining selective learning in instrumental and normative contexts. PLoS ONE. 2016; 11(10): e0164698. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164698 27768716

24. Olah K, Kiraly I. Young children selectively imitate models conforming to social norms. Front. Psychol. 2019; 10:1399. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01399 31293474

25. Koenig M, Clément F, Harris PL. Trust in Testimony: Children’s use of true and false statements. Psychol Sci. 2004; 10: 694–8.

26. Takagishi H, Kameshima S, Schug J, Koizumi M, Yamagishi T. Theory of mind enhances preference for fairness. J Exp Child Psychol. 2010; 105: 130–137. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.09.005 19857876

27. Sally D, Hill E. The development of interpersonal strategy: Autism, theory-of-mind, cooperation and fairness. J Econ Psychol. 2006; 27: 73–97. doi: 10.1016/j.joep.2005.06.015

28. Liu B, Huang Z, Xu G, Jin Y, Chen Y, Xiuhong L, et al. Altruistic sharing behavior in children: Role of theory of mind and inhibitory control. J Exp Child Psychol. 2016; 141: 222–228. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.010 26452508

29. Yu J, Zhu L, Leslie AM. Children’s Sharing Behavior in Mini-Dictator Games: The Role of In Group Favoritism and Theory of Mind. Child Dev. 2016; 87(6): 1747–1757. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12635 28262934

30. Mulvey KL, Buchheister K, McGrath K. Evaluations of intergroup resource allocations: The role of theory of mind. J Exp Child Psychol. 2016; 142: 203–211. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.10.002 26525855

31. Vonk J, Jett SE, Tomeny TS, Mercer S, Cwikla J. Young children’s theory of mind predicts more sharing with friends over time. Child Dev. 2018; Advance online publication.

32. Wellman HM, Cross D, Watson J. Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Dev. 2001; 72: 655–684. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00304 11405571

33. Wimmer H, Perner J. Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and the containing function of wrong beliefs in young children's understanding of deception. Cognition. 1983; 13: 103–128. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5 6681741

34. Moll H, Tomasello M. How 14- and 18-month-olds know what others have experienced. Dev Psychol. 2007; 43(2): 309–317. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.2.309 17352541

35. O’Neill DK. Two-year-old children’s sensitivity to a parent’s knowledge state when making requests. Child Dev. 1996; 67: 659–677. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01758.x

36. Fedra E, Schmidt MFH. Older (but not younger) pre-schoolers reject incorrect knowledge claims. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 2019; 37, 130–145. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12264 30094857

37. Lakens D, Scheel AM, Isager PM. Equivalence testing for psychological research: A tutorial. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science. 2018; 1(2): 259–269 doi: 10.1177/2515245918770963

38. Fusaro M, Corriveau KH, Harris PL. The good, the strong, and the accurate: Preschoolers’ evaluations of informant attributes. J Exp Child Psychol. 2011; 110: 561–574. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.06.008 21802693

39. Hermes J, Behne T, Rakoczy H. The development of selective trust: Prospects for a dual‐process account. Child Dev Perspect. 2018; 12(2): 134–138. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12274

40. Engelmann JM, Herrmann E, Tomasello M. Five-year olds, but not chimpanzees, attempt to manage their reputations. PloS ONE. 2012; 7, e48433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048433 23119015

41. Leimgruber KL, Shaw A, Santos LR, Olson KR. Young children are more generous when others are aware of their actions. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7 (10), e48292. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048292 23133582

42. Kelsey C, Grossmann T, Vaish A Early reputation management: Three-year-old children are more generous following exposure to eyes. Frontiers in Pscyhology. 2018; 9, article 698.

43. Li V, Spitzer B, Olson KR. Preschoolers reduce inequality while favoring individuals with more. Child Development. 2014; 85, 1123–1133. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12198 24359582

44. Paulus M. The early origins of human charity: Developmental changes in preschoolers’ sharing with poor and wealthy individuals. Frontiers in Psychology. 2014; 5, 344. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00344 25018735

45. Paulus M, Leitherer M. Preschoolers’ social experiences and empathybased responding relate to their fair resource allocation. J. Exp. Child Psychol. 2017; 161, 202–210. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.005 28501312

46. Wörle M, Paulus M. Normative expectations about fairness: The development of a charity norm in preschoolers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2018; 165, 66–84. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.016 28477951

47. Miller SA. Children’s understanding of second-order mental states. Psychol. Bull. 2009; 135 749–773. doi: 10.1037/a0016854 19702381

48. Yang F, Choi Y, Misch A, Yang X, Dunham Y. In defense of the commons: Young children negatively evaluate and sanction free riders. Psycholo Sci. 2018; 29(10): 1598–1611. doi: 10.1177/0956797618779061

49. Olson KR, Spelke ES. Foundations of cooperation in young children. Cognition. 2008; 108: 222–231. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.12.003 18226808

50. House B, Henrich J, Sarnecka B, Silk JB. The development of contingent reciprocity in children. Evolution and human behaviour. 2013; 34: 86–93.

51. Imuta K, Henry JD, Slaughter V, Selcuk B, Ruffman T. Theory of mind and prosocial behavior in childhood: A meta-analytic review. Dev Psychol. 2016; 52(8): 1192–1205. doi: 10.1037/dev0000140 27337508

52. Burford HC, Foley LA, Rollins PG, Rosario KS. Gender differences in preschoolers’ sharing behavior. J Soc Behav Pers. 1996; 11: 17–25.

53. Houser D, Schunk D. Social environments with competitive pressure: Gender effects in the decisions of German school children. J Econ Psychol. 2009; 30: 634–64.

54. Malti T, Gummerum M, Keller M, Chaparro MP, Buchmann M. Early sympathy and social acceptance predict the development of sharing in children. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(12): e52017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052017 23272197

55. Happé FGE. An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters' thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped and normal children and adults. J Autism Dev Disord. 1994; 24: 129–154. doi: 10.1007/bf02172093 8040158

56. Wellman HM, Liu D. Scaling of theory-of mind tasks. Child Dev. 2004; 75: 523–541. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00691.x 15056204

Článok vyšiel v časopise


2020 Číslo 1

Najčítanejšie v tomto čísle

Zvýšte si kvalifikáciu online z pohodlia domova

Získaná hemofilie - Povědomí o nemoci a její diagnostika
nový kurz

Základné princípy liečby bolestivých stavov

Efektivní snižování hyperpigmentace − od výzkumu k inovacím pro praxi
Autori: dr. Ludger Kolbe, dr. Thierry Passeron, MD, PhD

Autori: doc. MUDr. Petr Čáp, Ph.D.

Krvácení v důsledku portální hypertenze při jaterní cirhóze – od pohledu záchranné služby až po závěrečný hepato-gastroenterologický pohled
Autori: PhDr. Petr Jaššo, MBA, MUDr. Hynek Fiala, Ph.D., prof. MUDr. Radan Brůha, CSc., MUDr. Tomáš Fejfar, Ph.D., MUDr. David Astapenko, Ph.D., prof. MUDr. Vladimír Černý, Ph.D.

Všetky kurzy
Zabudnuté heslo

Nemáte účet?  Registrujte sa

Zabudnuté heslo

Zadajte e-mailovú adresu, s ktorou ste vytvárali účet. Budú Vám na ňu zasielané informácie k nastaveniu nového hesla.


Nemáte účet?  Registrujte sa