Adults’ attraction to rare objects has been variously attributed to fundamental biases related to resource availability, self-related needs, or beliefs about social and market forces. The current three studies investigated the scarcity bias in 11- and 14-month-old infants, and 3- to 6-year-old children (N = 129). With slight methodological modifications, participants had to choose between one of 10 same-kind-items (abundant resource), or the only one of a different kind (scarce resource). It was found that a robust preference for the scarce resource appeared only at age 5 years. Thus, although a scarcity bias is not present in infancy, it emerges prior to comprehension of market forces. Possible accounts of this developmental finding are discussed.
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