News Details

Jessica Sommerville was quoted in a New Scientist article discussing how early in life, the benefits of social dominance are expected.


7 July 2017
Even toddlers expect bullies to get more than their fair share.

Exerpt from article by By Aylin Woodward

For the first time, there’s evidence that infants expect socially dominant people to be treated differently.

From as young as 6 months, babies begin to judge other people’s characters, and by the age of 10 months, infants anticipate that bigger things will dominate smaller ones. Now an experiment has found that 17-month-old infants expect dominant people to have more toys and other resources.

A team has discovered that 17-month-old toddlers follow social cues to adjust their expectations of what a person should have. “They are tuned to what they observe – who is more powerful or competent – and use that to make further predictions,” says team member Hyo Gweon at Stanford University in California.

“The fact that dominance and resource notions are aligned and established so early may have consequences for larger societal issues,” says team member Jessica Sommerville of the University of Washington, Seattle. “This might help to explain why people endorse egalitarian resource distributions, yet we struggle to change the status quo in which some folks wind up with more resources even if they are undeserving of them.”


Read the entire article here.