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Young children associate buying with feeling richer

Kappes, Heather Barry ORCID: 0000-0002-6335-3888 (2024) Young children associate buying with feeling richer. Frontiers in Behavioral Economics, 2. ISSN 2813-5296

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Identification Number: 10.3389/frbhe.2023.1293694


From an early age, children begin to make decisions about buying things they want, or refraining from buying (e.g., to save up for something better). However, it was unclear how these decisions affect their feelings about their economic resources: does buying make children feel richer or poorer? This manuscript describes three studies that address this gap, with children ages 4 through 12 in the United Kingdom and United States. Older children thought that a child who bought something was richer than a child who refrained from buying, even if the target child was still able to accomplish their goal (Study 1). And for children as young as 4, imagining buying something (compared to imagining refraining from buying) predicted and led to imagining themselves feeling richer (Studies 2-3). The magnitude of the effect of buying versus refraining on feeling rich did not change appreciably through age 12. These findings complement previous research which looked at children’s judgments of their family’s social status, by showing that children’s feelings about their economic resources also fluctuate in response to actions (buying versus refraining) that impact those resources. This work contributes to an understanding of how feelings of wealth develop in childhood and has useful implications for adults who want to support children in developing financial skills.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D1 - Household Behavior and Family Economics > D10 - General
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2024 12:30
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 04:19

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