kitchen table math, the sequel: Just world

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Just world

For quite a while now, I've been fascinated by the degree to which a sense justice comes built in (not just in people but in "non-human" animals as well):
When responding to ownership violations, children can focus on the victim’s needs, the perpetrator’s punishment, or both. Recent studies show that 3- and 5-year olds are equally likely to respond to second- and third party violations, and 3-year-olds return objects to their rightful owners. Children’s interventions are consistent with justice for victims.


Together, these results suggest that although children intervene in loss events experienced by them- selves and others, their interventions are a general re- sponse to any unpermitted loss of property rather than punishment of theft.

Young children remedy second- and third-party ownership violations
Julia W. Van de Vondervoort and J. Kiley Hamlin
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | September 2015, Vol. 19, No. 9
A "second-party" violation means that the child himself or herself was the victim; a third-party violation means that a puppet was the victim.

In either case, your basic 3-year old's attitude, with which I completely agree, is: Give it back.

I wonder at what age children start to feel that justice requires punishment? (Or perhaps children at this age innately feel that punishment relates to a different set of wrongs?)

I'm pretty sure I've come across a fair amount of research showing that a desire to see wrongdoing punished is built-in, too.

1 comment:

owen thomas said...

if "desire to see wrong-doing punished"
is, indeed, "built-in"? -- then we are in a
context of "original sin". wrong is wrong.
"built-in" or not.