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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Does kindness always pay? The influence of recipient affection and generosity on young children's allocation decisions in a resource distribution task
Author(s): Blakey, Kirsten
Mason, Erin
Cristea, Mioara
McGuigan, Nicola
Messer, Emily
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Keywords: Resource distribution
Selective prosocial donating
Recipient characteristics
Indirect reciprocity
Issue Date: Aug-2019
Citation: Blakey K, Mason E, Cristea M, McGuigan N & Messer E (2019) Does kindness always pay? The influence of recipient affection and generosity on young children's allocation decisions in a resource distribution task. Current Psychology, 38 (4), pp. 939-949.
Abstract: The aim of the current study was to determine whether the level of generosity shown by 3- to 8-year-old children (N = 136; M age = 69 months) in a resource distribution task would vary according to whether the recipient had previously displayed kind (affection and generosity) and/or non-kind (non-affection and non-generosity) behavior towards a third party. We first asked whether donor children would show higher levels of generosity towards an affectionate than a non-affectionate recipient (condition 1), and a generous than a non-generous recipient (condition 2), before pitting the two forms of recipient kindness directly against each other (condition 3). Last, we asked whether donations to generous recipients would decrease if the recipient simultaneously displayed non-kind behavior through a lack of affection (condition 4). Here we show that children allocated a greater share of the available resource to generous and affectionate recipients than non-generous and non-affectionate recipients respectively. However, when asked to divide resources between a generous and an affectionate recipient, or two recipients who had each displayed a combination of kind and non-kind behavior, children allocated each recipient an equal share of the resource. These findings suggest that children donate selectively based on previous information regarding recipient generosity and affection, however when both forms of kindness are pitted directly against each other, children strive for equality, suggesting that kindness engenders donor generosity irrespective of the form of kindness previously displayed.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s12144-019-00260-7
Rights: © The Author(s) 2019 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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