issues and experts

Study tracks the development of fairness in children

November 18, 2015

SFU psychology PhD student John Corbit and a team of researchers have found culture plays an important role in the perception of fairness among children, adding an important insight to the little-understood developmental origins of human fairness.

The study, published today in Nature, looks at aversion in children—or sense of dislike—to two forms of inequity: advantageous inequity (having more than a peer) and disadvantageous inequity (having less than a peer) in American, Canadian, Indian, Peruvian, Senegalese, Mexican and Ugandan societies. 

Researchers found early on and across societies, children do not like receiving fewer resources than a peer. However, Canadian, American and Ugandan children, around middle childhood, extend this concern for fairness to others and will reject resource allocations that put themselves at an advantage relative to a peer.

“These findings highlight the important role of culture in the development of children's fairness, especially in the emergence of advantageous inequity aversion,” says Corbit.

John Corbit, PhD student, SFU psychology, 902.449.6175,