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Social mobility is partially based on access to economic and non-economic opportunities. Individuals from disadvantaged or minority groups often have difficulties with social mobility because they do not have equal access to opportunities. Early on, children develop the ability to form personal judgments about social groups and understand their own memberships within them (Patterson et al., 2016). Although children expect people to privilege their own group, they also value fairness (DeJesus, Rhodes, & Kinzler, 2013). Previous studies have focused on children’s understanding of resource distribution. In contrast, the current study examined what children think about opportunity distribution between majority and minority groups. Participants included 31 6- to 9-year-olds. When prompted to select new group members for an exclusive group, children were first asked who they expected the majority group to choose (between two majority members, a majority and a minority member, or two minority members). They were then asked who they thought were most fair for the majority group to choose. Children expected groups to distribute opportunities to majority members. However, they thought it was most fair for groups to provide opportunities to minority members. This understanding of opportunity distribution did not change between the two age groups (6-7s and 8-9s). These results suggested that children recognize what is equitable as well as the reality of opportunity distribution between majority and minority groups.

Publication Date

Spring 2021


equal opportunity, child psychology, fairness, equity, child development, social groups


Child Psychology