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Keywords:

  • Social cognition;
  • Egalitarianism;
  • Cognitive development;
  • Intergroup behavior

Abstract

Past research reveals a tension between children's preferences for egalitarianism and ingroup favoritism when distributing resources to others. Here we investigate how children's evaluations and expectations of others' behaviors compare. Four- to 10-year-old children viewed events where individuals from two different groups distributed resources to their own group, to the other group, or equally across groups. Groups were described within a context of intergroup competition over scarce resources. In the Evaluation condition, children were asked to evaluate which resource distribution actions were nicer. In the Expectation condition, children were asked to predict which events were more likely to occur. With age, children's evaluations and expectations of others' actions diverged: Children evaluated egalitarian actions as nicer yet expected others to behave in ways that benefit their own group. Thus, children's evaluations about the way human social actors should behave do not mirror their expectations concerning those individuals' actions.