Judgments of the Lucky Across Development and Culture

Kristina R. Olson, Yarrow Dunham, Carol S. Dweck, Elizabeth S. Spelke, Mahzarin R. Banaji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

For millennia, human beings have believed that it is morally wrong to judge others by the fortuitous or unfortunate events that befall them or by the actions of another person. Rather, an individual's own intended, deliberate actions should be the basis of his or her evaluation, reward, and punishment. In a series of studies, the authors investigated whether such rules guide the judgments of children. The first 3 studies demonstrated that children view lucky others as more likely than unlucky others to perform intentional good actions. Children similarly assess the siblings of lucky others as more likely to perform intentional good actions than the siblings of unlucky others. The next 3 studies demonstrated that children as young as 3 years believe that lucky people are nicer than unlucky people. The final 2 studies found that Japanese children also demonstrate a robust preference for the lucky and their associates. These findings are discussed in relation to M. J. Lerner's (1980) just-world theory and J. Piaget's (1932/1965) immanent-justice research and in relation to the development of intergroup attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-776
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume94
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • cross-cultural psychology
  • evaluative contagion
  • immanent justice
  • preference for the lucky
  • social cognitive development

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