IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Would you do something for me? The effects of money activation on social preferences and social behavior in young children

  • Gasiorowska, Agata
  • Zaleskiewicz, Tomasz
  • Wygrab, Sandra

The research presented in this paper shows that merely activating the idea of money affects the social behavior and social preferences of young children who do not understand the economic functions of money. From an economic point of view, money is universal, instrumental, and can be defined by the functions that it provides. From the psychological point of view, money is more symbolic and emotional than instrumental, and can serve as social resource in interpersonal and intrapersonal regulation. These effects of money are connected with its symbolic, rather than its instrumental, nature. To test whether the symbolic and instrumental meanings of money are developing at appropriate ages, we conducted two experiments on 5–8year olds. After money activation, children were more selfish in economic games, revealing less prosocial preferences and were less prone to help the experimenter than children from the control group. Even if children at this stage do not understand the economic mechanisms of money and are not able to use money properly in the instrumental context, they react to symbolic activation. This might imply that the symbolic meaning of money is more primal than the instrumental meaning.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 603-608

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:603-608
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2002. "Why Social Preferences Matter -- The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C1-C33, March.
  2. Belk, Russell W. & Wallendorf, Melanie, 1990. "The sacred meanings of money," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 35-67, March.
  3. Jia (Elke) Liu & Dirk Smeesters & Kathleen D. Vohs, 2012. "Reminders of Money Elicit Feelings of Threat and Reactance in Response to Social Influence," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(6), pages 1030 - 1046.
  4. Leiser, David, 1983. "Children's conceptions of economics -- The constitution of a cognitive domain," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 297-317, December.
  5. Gino, Francesca & Pierce, Lamar, 2009. "The abundance effect: Unethical behavior in the presence of wealth," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 142-155, July.
  6. Leiser, David & Sevon, Guje & Levy, Daphna, 1990. "Children's economic socialization: Summarizing the cross-cultural comparison of ten countries," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 591-614, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:603-608. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.