Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

Taxing behavioral control diminishes sharing and costly punishment in childhood


Steinbeis,  Nikolaus
Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, the Netherlands;
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in PuRe
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Steinbeis, N. (2018). Taxing behavioral control diminishes sharing and costly punishment in childhood. Developmental Science, 21(1): e12492. doi:10.1111/desc.12492.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-26C3-9
Instances of altruism in children are well documented. However, the underlying mechanisms of such altruistic behavior are still under considerable debate. While some claim that altruistic acts occur automatically and spontaneously, others argue that they require behavioral control. This study focuses on the mechanisms that give rise to prosocial decisions such as sharing and costly punishment. In two studies it is shown in 124 children aged 6–9 years that behavioral control plays a critical role for both prosocial decisions and costly punishment. Specifically, the studies assess the influence of taxing aspects of self-regulation, such as behavioral control (Study 1) and emotion regulation (Study 2) on subsequent decisions in a Dictator and an Ultimatum Game. Further, children's perception of fairness norms and emotional experience were measured. Taxing children's behavioral control prior to making their decisions reduced sharing and costly punishment of unfair offers, without changing perception of fairness norms or the emotional experience. Conversely, taxing children's emotion regulation prior to making their decisions only led to increased experience of anger at seeing unfair offers, but left sharing, costly punishment and the perception of fairness norms unchanged. These findings stress the critical role of behavioral control in prosocial giving and costly punishment in childhood.