Two- and three-year-olds consider ownership when selecting and allocating resources
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In three experiments, we investigated whether 2- and 3-year-olds (N = 240) consider ownership when taking resources for themselves and allocating resources to another agent. When selecting resources for themselves, children generally avoided taking resources that belonged to another agent and instead favored their own resources (Experiments 1 and 2). However, they did not avoid taking the agent’s resources when the only other resources available were described as not belonging to the agent (Experiment 3). Children also selected fewer of the agent’s resources when taking for themselves than when giving to the agent (Experiments 2 and 3). In giving to the agent, children were more likely to select the agent’s resources than resources not belonging to the agent (Experiment 3). These findings show that ownership affects how 2- and 3-year-olds allocate resources. The findings also provide new evidence that 2-year-olds may respect others’ ownership rights, at least to a limited degree, although we also consider an alternative explanation for the findings.
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