Developmental changes in number personification by elementary school children

Eiko Matsuda, Yoshihiro Okazaki, Michiko Asano, Kazuhiko Yokosawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Children often personify non-living objects, such as puppets and stars. This attribution is considered a healthy phenomenon, which can simulate social exchange and enhance children's understanding of social relationships. In this study, we considered that the tendency of children to engage in personification could potentially be observed in abstract entities, such as numbers. We hypothesized that children tend to attribute personalities to numbers, which diminishes during the course of development. By consulting the methodology to measure ordinal linguistic personification (OLP), which is a type of synesthesia, we quantified the frequency with which child and adult populations engage in number personification. Questionnaires were completed by 151 non-synesthetic children (9-12 years old) and 55 non-synesthetic adults. Children showed a higher tendency than adults to engage in number personification, with respect to temporal consistency and the frequency of choosing meaningful answers. Additionally, children tended to assign unique and exclusive descriptions to each number from zero to nine. By synthesizing the series of analyses, we revealed the process in which number personification diminishes throughout development. In the discussion, we examined the possibility that number personification serves as a discrimination clue to aid children's comprehension of the relationships between numbers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2214
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
Issue numberNOV
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2018

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Keywords

  • Development
  • Elementary school children
  • Ordinal linguistic personification
  • Personification
  • Synesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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