Children’s Distributive Justice: The Role of Gender Norms in Different Settings

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Abstract: Children ages 6, 8 and 10 (N=66) distributed resources to a boy and a girl when the proportion of feminine and masculine resources varied, when the preferences of the boy and the girl varied, and when the setting was public or private. Children used gender norms to sort the resources but they primarily sorted the resources equally, even when it required violating gender norms. When there was an atypical preference, participants provided more atypical resources to the children. However, when the setting was public, they provided fewer atypical resources. Overall the results indicate that gender norms are especially strong in public settings but explicit information about preferences can lead children to be flexible about gender norms.

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