Reciprocity Among Preschoolers in Relation to Resource Allocation Toward Siblings, Friends, and Strangers

Hui Jing Lu, Lei Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Children at age 6 years differentially treat kin, friends, and strangers in resource allocation games by being more altruistic toward kin. However, it is unknown how previous allocation experience as a recipient influences the potential kinship effect in subsequent resource allocations. The present study investigated how 4- to 6-year-old children allocated resources between themselves and a sibling, a friend, or a stranger in three allocation tasks after the recipient had previously shared or nonshared with the participant. Results showed that, when a share would induce cost on the self, 6-year-old children were likely to share with a sibling whether the sibling had previously shared or not, but they would share only with friends or strangers who had previously shared. When a share would induce no cost, participants across ages were likely to share with a recipient who had previously shared. When the decision option was between sharing equally and sharing altruistically, participants would allow the recipient to have more only when the recipient was a sibling or friend who had previously allocated altruistically. These findings suggest that kin altruism in resource allocation emerges at around 6 years of age and that reciprocity partly overrides and partly reinforces kin altruism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • kin altruism
  • preschooler
  • reciprocity
  • resource allocation
  • share

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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