Memory & Cognition

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 757–764

Let’s swap: Early understanding of social exchange by British and Nepali children


DOI: 10.3758/BF03200478

Cite this article as:
Harris, P.L., núñez, M. & Brett, C. Memory & Cognition (2001) 29: 757. doi:10.3758/BF03200478


Recent research with adults has suggested that they readily understand conditional rules that include a deontic or prescriptive element. The possibility that young children might also understand such conditional rules when they are embedded in the context of an exchange agreement was explored in three studies. Children 3–7 years of age listened to stories in which two protagonists agreed to an exchange of mutual benefit. Children tested both in Britain and Nepal were accurate in identifying (1) when either protagonist had reneged on the agreement and (2) when both protagonists had kept the agreement. The findings indicate that young children are sensitive to the obligations that stem from an exchange agreement even if it is made between equals rather than imposed by adult authority.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul L. Harris
    • 1
    • 2
  • María núñez
    • 1
  • Caroline Brett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordEngland
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridge