In this study, we seek to widen our understanding of the developmental processes underlying bargaining behaviour in children addressing the concept of prospective thinking. We argue that the emergence of the capacity to think prospectively about future outcomes or behaviours in response to current actions is a required precedent to strategic decision making. To test this idea, we compared 6, 8 and 10 years old children’s performance on three tasks: the ultimatum game assessing fairness/inequality aversion, the marshmallow task, an intertemporal choice task evaluating the ability to delay gratification, and the dictator game assessing altruism. The children’s socio-demographic and cognitive variables were also evaluated. We hypothesized that development of strategic thinking in the ultimatum game is related to an increased ability to delay gratification − given that both tasks require looking at prospective benefits − and, crucially, not to altruism, which benefits from immediate selfless reward. Our results confirmed our hypothesis suggesting that increased strategic planning with age would also stem from the development of competencies like prospective thinking.
- Decision Making
- Developmental Psychology