Preschoolers Reduce Inequality While Favoring Individuals With More

Vivian Li, Brian Spitzer, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Inequalities are everywhere, yet little is known about how children respond to people affected by inequalities. This article explores two responses-minimizing inequalities and favoring those who are advantaged by them. In Studies 1a (N = 37) and 1b (N = 38), 4- and 5-year-olds allocated a resource to a disadvantaged recipient, but judged advantaged recipients more positively. In Studies (N = 38) and (N = 74), a delay occurred between seeing the inequality and allocating resources, or stating a preference, during which time participants forgot who was initially more advantaged. Children then favored advantaged recipients on the preference and resource allocation measures, suggesting an implicit "affective tagging" mechanism drives the tendency to favor the advantaged. In contrast, reducing inequalities through resource allocation appears to require explicit reasoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1133
Number of pages11
JournalChild development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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