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HeuristicsThe Foundations of Adaptive Behavior$
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Gerd Gigerenzer, Ralph Hertwig, and Thorsten Pachur

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744282

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199744282.001.0001

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Parental Investment: How an Equity Motive Can Produce Inequality

Parental Investment: How an Equity Motive Can Produce Inequality

(p.670) Chapter 35 Parental Investment: How an Equity Motive Can Produce Inequality

Ralph Hertwig (Contributor Webpage)

Jennifer Nerissa Davis

Frank J. Sulloway

Oxford University Press

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

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