ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (11): 1242-1250.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01242

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  1. (北京大学心理学系, 北京 100871)
  • 收稿日期:2013-01-14 发布日期:2013-11-25 出版日期:2013-11-25
  • 通讯作者: 苏彦捷
  • 基金资助:


From Understanding to Utilizing: Theory of Mind and Children’s Distributive Justice in Different Contexts

WANG Si;SU Yanjie   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China)
  • Received:2013-01-14 Online:2013-11-25 Published:2013-11-25
  • Contact: SU Yanjie


分配公平性的发展即儿童对采用何种公平标准进行资源分配的渐进理解及其应用的过程。新近的双加工过程理论认为个体的分配公平性受认知和情感加工过程的共同作用。本研究旨在考察不同卷入水平情境中心理理论(theory of mind, ToM)对儿童分配公平性的影响。实验1, 61名4~5岁儿童以及40名成人完成代币给予游戏, 结果发现ToM和情境的卷入水平都能促进儿童的公平性判断, 并且非卷入情境下ToM通过组的儿童表现出与成人相似水平的公平性判断; 实验2采用资源分配任务, 比较了在卷入和非卷入两种情境下61名4~5岁儿童ToM对其公平性行为的影响, 结果表明卷入水平和ToM有交互作用, 卷入情境下ToM通过组比未通过组分配更公平, 非卷入情境下两组儿童的表现无差异。研究结果表明分配公平性的发展可能受到认知和情感两加工过程的共同作用, 支持双加工过程理论, 并提示可以通过情境设置和增加对他人心理状态的理解来帮助培养儿童的公平意识。

关键词: 儿童, 分配公平性, 心理理论, 卷入水平


Distributive justice is the core content of children’s moral development. Its development describes a child’s progressive understanding and application of what constitutes fairness during resource distribution. Previous work has suggested that younger children often allocate rewards in a self-interest centered manner as a result of limited cognitive abilities. However, recent studies have indicated that 3- to 5-year-old children could perform fair distribution, even infants hold the expectation of resource allocation according to one's effort. Incidentally, the dual-process theory emphasized that there are two different underlying processes of children’s distributive justice: the automatic emotional process and the controlled cognitive process. Given that children should first attribute others’ beliefs and intents, and hereafter take account of each person’s contributions through understanding and making use of high-level distributive justice principles, Theory of Mind (ToM) may participate an important role during this procedure. Based on current understandings, in order to get a clear overview of distributive justice development and its underlying mechanisms, this study aims in investigating how children’s Theory of Mind affect the two aspects of distributive justice (distributive justice judgment and distributive justice behavior) in the involved and uninvolved contexts. Experiment 1 focused on the relationship between Theory of Mind and children’s distributive justice judgment in two different contexts (involved and uninvolved). 61 preschool participants aged from 4- to 5- participated in the Giving Game and 40 adult participants completed the Giving Game Context Questionnaire. The results from the uninvolved context indicated that judgments made by children who passed the Theory of Mind tasks were similar to the judgments by the adults’, and both Theory of Mind and uninvolved context promoted children’s distributive justice judgment. Experiment 2 explored the question of how Theory of Mind affected children’s resource distributing behavior using distributive justice principles. This study compared the influence of Theory of Mind of 61 4- to 5-year-old children’s distributive justice behavior in the involved context, with the impact under uninvolved context. The results showed that there was an interaction between Theory of Mind and the involvement of distribution context. Under involved context, children who passed Theory of Mind tasks performed much more fairly than the children who didn't pass; whereas in uninvolved context there were no group differences. Together, these two experiments associated a link of how children would understand distributive justice principles, and how they could use in allocating resources. On the basis of the whole structure, Theory of Mind may have stable and context-sensitive impact on children’s distributive justice. This brought support to the dual-process theory, where automatic emotional process is dominant under involved context, while controlled cognitive process is guiding the uninvolved context. These results provided enriched evidence for current researches and brought new perspectives for future studies. Meanwhile, we can improve children’s development of distributive justice by strengthening their Theory of Mind abilities over training, which is valuable for educational purposes.

Key words: children, distributive justice, theory of mind, involvement