Preschoolers ’ Understanding of Merit in Two Asian Societies

Abstract:
Recent research in moral psychology have suggested that children make judgments about distributive justice early on in development, and in particular they appear to be able to use merit when distributing the benefits of a collective action. This prediction has recently been validated in various western cultures but it is unknown whether it also applies to more collectivistic cultures, in which the group might be favoured over the individual, and need over merit. Here, we investigate merit-based distributions among 81 children belonging to two Asian societies, China and Japan (mean age = 5.0 years). In line with the idea that children’s moral psychology develops early, we found that Chinese and Japanese children are able to use merit to distribute the benefits of a collective action.
 

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