The effects of models on equality and equity distributions in children

A study was conducted to investigate the effects of filmed models on children's decisions regarding distribution of reward in a dyadic situation. The principal question was: would children us an equality or equity norm when dividing a reward? Children saw a short videotape showing adult models working jointly on a task where one model finished a larger proportion of the task. Upon completion the models received a monetary reward. Two separate endings to this tape portrayed either an equal division of the reward or left unstated the division. Subjects then performed a task which was identical to that of a fictitious other. Subjects were told that they had completed a greater or lesser proportion of the task and that they had been given the same amount of time to complete the task as the fictitious other. A reward was presented to the subjects and they were asked to distribute it between themselves and the fictitious other. It was hypothesized that 1) subjects who believed they had completed more of the task would keep more of the reward than those who believed they had completed less of the task, in accordance with an equity norm; 2) exposure to the filmed models who made an equality distribution would affect subjects such that those seeing this distribution would imitate it, suggesting that an equality norm was being followed; 3) males and females would differ in the amount of reward taken, with females taking less reward than males over all conditions, as some previous research has suggested. Results produced direct support for the first hypothesis, while supplementary findings offered partial support for the other hypotheses. These results are discussed in relation to sex differences, the effects of models, the presence of norms, and the meaning of the performance for the subjects.