Parental Investment: How an Equity Motive Can Produce Inequality

Ralph Hertwig, Jennifer Nerissa Davis and Frank J. Sulloway

in Heuristics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744282
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894727 | DOI:
Parental Investment: How an Equity Motive Can Produce Inequality

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The equity heuristic is a decision rule specifying that parents should attempt to subdivide resources more or less equally among their children. This investment rule coincides with the prescription from optimality models in economics and biology in cases in which expected future return for each offspring is equal. This chapter presents a counterintuitive implication of the equity heuristic: Whereas an equity motive produces a fair distribution at any given point in time, it yields a cumulative distribution of investments that is unequal. The chapter tests this analytical observation against evidence reported in studies exploring parental investment and show how the equity heuristic can provide an explanation of why the literature reports a diversity of birth order effects with respect to parental resource allocation.

Keywords: parental investment; heuristics; allociation; equity heuristic

Chapter.  14802 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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