‘To the Victor Go the Spoils’: Infants Expect Dominant Individuals to Receive More Resources than Submissive Individuals
Ake, Elizabeth A.
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Previous research has found that within the first year of life infants possess rich knowledge about resource distributions (i.e., that resources are typically distributed equally to recipients) and social structures (i.e., that some individuals are dominant over other individuals). We investigated whether infants’ expectations about resource distribution can be modulated by information about the dominance structure between the recipients. We first replicated the finding that infants are sensitive to social dominance in a novel context (Expt. 1), and demonstrated that this sensitivity is not driven by lower-level perceptual factors (Expt. 2). In Experiments 3 – 5, we tested our main hypothesis that infants’ attention to equal and unequal distributions varies as a function of prior social dominance information. We first replicated and extended prior work by establishing that when no prior information was provided about recipients, infants looked significantly longer to unequal than equal resource distributions (Expt. 3). In contrast, following social dominance information, infants looked significantly longer to an equal distribution of resources than a distribution that favored the dominant individual (Expt. 4), and looked significantly longer when the submissive individual received more resources compared to when the dominant individual received more resources (Expts. 4 & 5). Together, these findings suggest that infants expect resource distributions to align with social dominance structures.
- Psychology