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Ownership and fairness as understood by children across cultures

One study has provided fresh perspective and insight on how universal developmental processes and socio-cultural environment shape children’s resource allocation behaviour.
Ownership and fairness as understood by children across cultures
Regulation of the allocation and distribution of goods is necessary in society in order to prevent conflicts over access to valuable resources. How children develop and learn resource allocation rules has been studied in Western societies, but very little has been done cross-culturally.

An EU-funded project XCULTDEVRESALL (The cross-cultural development of resource allocation behaviour) examined how non-Western children learn to allocate resources in rural, small-scale populations. More precisely, the work focused on the development of ownership rules across cultures and the development of sharing and fairness rules.

In terms of career development, the goal was to obtain training in cross-cultural field research and increase experience in student supervision and project management. Two first-author publications were completed and a series of large scale cross-cultural studies on children’s cognitive skills was started. Extensive field research experience was gained on field trips to Kenya, Namibia, Argentina and Bolivia. Additionally, a series of career development workshops for postdocs was offered. There was also participation in international conferences as well as co-organisation of a cross-cultural pre-conference workshop at a developmental psychology conference.

Results have contributed to diversifying the knowledgebase of developmental psychology by studying children from diverse and underrepresented populations. This can contribute to knowledge and awareness for the need of culturally-minded research in the behavioural sciences.

Related information


Children, resource allocation, ownership rules, student supervision, children’s cognitive skills, developmental psychology
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