Children's Attention to Proportional Inequality When Making Social Judgments

Karina Lin

Children's Attention to Proportional Inequality When Making Social Judgments
Lin, Karina
Thesis Advisor(s):
McCrink, Koleen Cathryn
B.A., Barnard College
Psychology (Barnard College)
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This current study explores how children use their ability to reason proportionally and attend to proportional inequality in social situations. Previous studies have found that adults tend to use their knowledge of proportion to evaluate resource allocations. This perception of fairness is used to judge social traits. In addition, non-human primates have been found to react negatively when an allocation received was less attractive than an allocation received by a conspecific. In this study, children were introduced to two cartoons, each of whom allocated a designated proportion of chips to the child and another amount to a perceived competitor to the child. The children were then asked to judge which cartoon they would prefer to be friends with. Sensitivity to the proportion of resources received compared to the rival would show that the propensity to measure a stranger's resource allocation by using proportion is a behavior enacted by both children and adults. It would also provide additional evidence that children are capable of attending to ratio and proportion before any formal education in the topic. The study found that children performed at chance when selecting which cartoon to be friends with, suggesting that children may not attend to the same social cues that adults attend to when judging friend-worthy traits among new peers.
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Suggested Citation:
Karina Lin, , Children's Attention to Proportional Inequality When Making Social Judgments, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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