Spring 2020 Webinar Emerging research in collective intelligence

Politics on the playground: children’s intuitions about moral condemnation and majority rules voting

Hannah Hok, Univ. of Chicago, Dept. of Psych.
Practical information
17 June 2020

Children inhabit a world rich with sophisticated social information and interaction, which requires equally rich and sophisticated social intuitions. Here, I present two lines of research investigating children’s early social reasoning. The first set of studies examine what inferences children make about others based off of their moral condemnation. Across four studies, we find that by the age of 7-years-old children treat condemnation as a signal of one’s moral commitments—thinking that a condemner is less likely to engage in the immoral behavior and that she should be punished more harshly if she is caught hypocritically engaging in the action they condemned. In a second set of studies, we examine children’s intuitions about majority rules voting as a way groups make decisions. Across two studies, we demonstrate that children as young as 4-years old think one should use majority rules rather than minority preference to make group decisions. Further, by age 6-years-old, children think that one should resolve group decisions by majority rules voting rather than another impartial decision-making procedure (here coin flip). Importantly, we demonstrate that this is not because children think that majority rules voting is always fair; they understand that voting is unfair when it leads to the “tyranny of the majority”.