Journal article

Children's experience of economic inequality: How earning position influences prosocial behavior

Kelly Kirkland, Jolanda Jetten, Matti Wilks, Mark Nielsen

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT | ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC | Published : 2021

Abstract

Across two experiments, children aged 4–6 years (N = 120) played a series of games with six puppets where each accrued tokens to exchange for stickers. Children were high or low earners, experiencing high inequality in Experiment 1 and low inequality in Experiment 2. Prosocial behavior towards the puppets assessed how children treat those who directly experience the economic environment, and children's donation behavior towards a poor, unknown child measured whether earning status affects children's broader generosity. When experiencing high economic inequality, children were more likely to give a spare token to a puppet who was in a contrasting position (e.g., poor children gave to rich pup..

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