Infant Social Evaluations in Response to Unequal Resource Distribution

Evan M. Jordan, David G. Thomas, Elisabeth Ponce-Garcia


Healthy emotional development provides a foundation for the development of prosocial motives and their subsequent behaviors, especially those emotions specifically related to empathic responding. Previous research has demonstrated a preference for individuals who behave prosocially, as opposed to antisocially, in infants as young as 3 months of age (Hamlin et al., 2010). It has also been suggested that by 18 months of age infants may be evaluating the equitable and inequitable distributive actions of others as being either prosocial or antisocial behaviors, respectively (Geraci & Surian, 2011). This previous work has focused exclusively on the agents of the distributive actions. The purpose of the current study is to focus on the recipients of those actions, i.e., to determine if infants engage in social evaluations directed toward the individuals who are on the receiving end of prosocial and antisocial distributive behaviors. Specifically, this study assesses infant responses toward receivers that have been treated antisocially to determine if infants are displaying an empathically charged response toward individuals affected by antisocial actions.

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