Even Babies Understand Concept Of Sharing
October 10, 2011

Even Babies Understand The Concept Of Sharing

A new study has found the first evidence that children have a sense of fairness as early as 15-months-old.

Researchers performed an experiment with 47 15-month-old babies who sat on his or her parent's lap and watched two videos of someone acting out a sharing task.

One video showed someone holding a bowl of crackers, distributing them out between two others.  The other video had the same plot, but the experimenters used a pitcher of milk instead of crackers.

The researchers then measured as the babies looked at the food distributions of the other babies.

They found that babies spent more time looking if one recipient got more food than the other.

"The infants expected an equal and fair distribution of food, and they were surprised to see one person given more crackers or milk than the other," Jessica Sommerville, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology who led the study, said in a press release.

The study determined that babies as young as 15 months perceived the differences between equal and unequal distribution of food, and their awareness of equal rations was also linked to their willingness of share a toy.

"Our findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism are more rapidly acquired than we thought," Sommerville said in a statement.

"These results also show a connection between fairness and altruism in infants, such that babies who were more sensitive to the fair distribution of food were also more likely to share their preferred toy," she said.

The findings were published online on October 7 in the journal PLoS ONE.


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