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Study: Babies Know When They Are Treated Unfairly

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 09:50 AM


Even before a baby can talk, there’s a good chance he or she already knows the difference between what’s fair and unfair.
A University of Washington study found that 15-month old babies were able to tell the difference between equal and unequal allotments of food and drink.
The research, published in the online journal PLos ONE, also suggested that kids who comprehend fairness are more likely to share. “Our findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism are more rapidly acquired than we thought," said study leader Jessica Sommerville, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology.
For the study, which included 47 babies, researchers monitored the kids as they watched videos of even and uneven portions of food and drink being served. According to the results, the majority of the participating children paid closer attention to the video when they sensed somebody was getting a lesser or unfair amount.
"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," explained Sommerville.
Researchers say the findings could help parents and caregivers with teaching children how to share and cooperate. However, they add that it is still not clear whether traits such as fairness and altruism are innate or ones that can be taught.




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