The development of scope insensitivity in sharing behavior

Tehila Kogut, Paul Slovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The singularity effect of identifiable victims is described as the greater willingness to help a single, identified victim than to help a group of victims with the same need (whether victims are identified or not), which occurs even when the single victim is 1 of the group's members. The current research examines the development of this phenomenon in early childhood examining children's actual sharing behavior from the ages of 3.8 to 8.2. Our results show that although younger children are overall less willing to share with others, they give more of their endowment to a group of recipients than to a single recipient. However, this tendency reverses for older children and children with higher level of Theory of Mind, who exhibit the singularity effect by giving more of their endowment to a single, identified target. We discuss possible mechanisms behind this developmental pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1972-1981
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Identifiable victim effect
  • Prosocial development
  • Scope insensitivity
  • Sharing behavior
  • Singularity effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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