A study in economic psychology: Children's saving in a play economy

Paul Webley, Mark Levine, Alan Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Investigated the socialization process in the economic realm. 30 boys, 10 each aged 6, 9, and 12 yrs, took part in a play economy that consisted of 4 adjoining rooms, representing opportunities to save or temptation to spend. Ss were given 90 tokens over the period of the game and had to save 70 to purchase a desired toy. Results took 2 forms: (1) a simple analysis of the "success" rates of Ss in terms of their saving and (2) the recording of Ss' own constructions of the play economy and of savings behavior. Results show a predictable pattern of increased understanding of savings and improved savings "success" rates with increasing age, and the information gathered from the accounts showed that younger children developed "rational" strategies that were not necessarily inferior when viewed in a wider social context. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-146
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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