The development of fair resource allocation: Social norms and group processes

McGuire, Luke. 2018. The development of fair resource allocation: Social norms and group processes. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Resource allocation is an important context in which children and adolescents learn about moral issues of equality, equity and fair exchange. Recent research has examined resource allocation in an intergroup context in an attempt to understand how group processes exert an influence upon the propensity to share fairly. This thesis extends existing knowledge by providing an in-depth examination of a key element of the intergroup world; namely, social norms. Specifically, how the ability to coordinate multiple social norms when allocating resources in a challenging intergroup context develops between middle childhood and adolescence. Chapter One provides an overview of literature regarding resource allocation in an intergroup context, as well as relevant theory. In Chapter Two when ingroup and outgroup norms of competition and cooperation were manipulated, participants coordinated multiple norms at the peer level when allocating resources. In Chapter Three, adolescents and young adults coordinated peer group and generic societal norms, whereas children relied predominantly on ingroup norms to guide their allocation. Chapter Four demonstrated age-related differences between children and young adults in understanding of group processes when evaluating ingroup members who deviated from a resource allocation norm. In Chapter Five children coordinated generic norms at the classroom level with ingroup norms in their allocation decisions. Finally, Chapter Six examined the influence of peer norms in a situation of intergroup inequality. Adolescents coordinated their understanding of relative advantage and group processes, whilst children allocated equally. Overall these studies demonstrate the development of resource allocation strategies that simultaneously coordinate peer level norms, generic societal norms, and contextual information. In Chapter Seven, the findings are discussed in the context of theory and potential explanatory mechanisms are explored.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Moral Development, Resource Allocation, Group Norms, Intergroup Dynamics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 March 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 May 2018 13:56

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:06


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