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When Do Kids Learn ‘Fairness’?

A new study finds how children in different cultures react when confronted with the idea of unfairness and fairness.

How do different kids respond to being treated worse or better than their peers?

“In a series of tasks involving candy, hundreds of young kids from seven countries around the world — the United States, Canada, India, Mexico, Peru, Senegal and Uganda — innately grasped the unfairness of being given less candy than another child.”

“I think it’s evolutionary,” said Dr. Matthew Lorber, acting director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the research. “There’s something inbred in us for survival, that when we’re very young we make sure we stand up for ourselves and are taken care of.”

“But only older kids from the United States, Canada and Uganda were able to sense unfairness — and act on it — when given more candy than another child, the researchers found.”

“This suggested to us that this form of unfairness — that is, a negative reaction to getting more than others — may be importantly influenced by culture,” said study co-author Katherine McAuliffe, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University’s Social Cognitive Development Lab in New Haven, Conn.” Read more.

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