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Children’ s Understanding of Economic Phenomenon
Author(s): 
Pages: 1123-1129
Year: Issue:  5
Journal: Psychological Science

Keyword:  basic economic conceptprinciples of economicslaws of economicssaving behaviorcognitive development;
Abstract: Economic cognition is an important component of children’ s social cognition, and has great impacts on children’ s socialization processes. From an early age, children are exposed to a variety of economic phenomena, and are involved in some simple economic activities in their daily lives. While children get older, economic behaviors become increasingly important for them. The acquisition of economic knowledge can help them understand economic phenomena, form their own economic opinions, and better deal with all kinds of economic affairs around them. This paper summarized previous research from four aspects. Firstly, we discussed children’s understanding of some basic economic concepts, such as money, banks, interest, income, tax, and ownership. The results demonstrated that children’ s understandings of basic economic concepts increased with age, but there were cultural differences(across countries), and some divergence in the developmental trajectory of different economic concepts. Secondly, we reviewed research about children’ s understanding of economic principles, such as the exchange of equal value principle and the fair distribution principle, from which we concluded that children’ s understandings of economic principles also increased with age, and depended on their understanding of basic economic concepts. Thirdly, we listed research about children’s understanding of the laws of economics, i. e., the relations of supply, demand, price and sales. Children at about 9 years old had a better grasp of laws of economics than younger children, and children’ s understandings of the laws of economics was characterized by three features: a transition from isolated partial systems to an increasing integration of understanding; a transition from understanding economics as motivated by ethical considerations to a realization that economics has its own logic, distinct from moral considerations; and from one that relies on the motivation of individuals to one based on an appreciation of the aggregate effects of the actions and desires of groups of people. In addition, cross-cultural studies showed that children’ s understandings of the laws of economics in China is somewhat different than those of the United States, which may be due to different economic histories and market conditions in the two countries. Because the United States carried out market economics earlier than China, American children often resorted to seeking purchase while asking them to reason laws of economics. Finally, we discussed children’s understanding of saving behaviors. Although children displayed saving behaviors from an early age, they were not able to understand the saving purchase from different aspects until 12 years old. And at this age, their capability to use saving strategies became more and more skilled. To conclude, we proposed several future directions. First, other important economic phenomena(such as children’s capability to distinguish value and price, their understanding of the associations between laws of economics and economic behavior) should be investigated. Second, the underlying psychological mechanisms of some economic phenomena should be further explored. Finally, future study should integrate theoretical and educational application studies to identify ways that can promote children’s economic cognition
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