Intergroup fairness and bias in children



In recent years in research on intergroup relationships, the assumption has increasingly been made that discrimination dominates decisions when individuals allocate resources between (members of) own and other group. Conversely, in empirical studies of interpersonal decision-making, including an extensive literature on the development of children's allocation rules within dyadic relationships, it has been repeatedly observed that in dyadic relationships choices though responsive to various changes in the environment, are more strongly governed by fairness rules. The present research extends the interpersonal fairness paradigm to the intergroup case, and examines the effects of some of those variables, namely, children's age, input and attitudes toward other, that have been observed to influence choice behaviour within interpersonal relationships. The findings indicate that as children are socialized, fairness rules also play an increasing dominant role in intergroup allocation decisions, and that both relative input and the language of the outgroup influence such decisions. At the same time, there is some preliminary evidence to indicate that the relative strength of self-interest may be somewhat stronger in intergroup than in interpersonal relationships. Finally, a number of the issues that must be confronted in comparing the two more important forms of human social choices, interpersonal and intergroup decision-making, are considered.