Conceptualizing values abstractly: Longitudinal development and the role of concept formation and working memory

Kinneret Misgav, Ella Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The study aimed to clarify the recent claim that at age five, children rank meaningful values, despite known limitations in their abstract thinking skills. We thus investigated how children develop in their understanding of values between six and eight years of age, as well as associations between this development and cognitive gains. N = 299 children (MageT1 = 7.24, SD = 0.62; T2, 8–13 months later) were asked what they valued and why. Interviews were coded as describing values concretely or abstractly. Working memory (WM) and concept formation (CF) were measured. As hypothesized, older children understood their values more abstractly than younger ones. Mediation analyses established that WM was directly associated with value abstraction at T1 and indirectly associated with value abstraction, via CF, at T2. The results suggest children increasingly understand values as abstract concepts, and this advancement may be tied to progress in both basic and complex cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101267
JournalCognitive Development
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


This research was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (grant number: 212/17 ) to Ella Daniel.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation212/17


    • Abstract thinking
    • Concept formation
    • Middle childhood
    • Moral development
    • Values
    • Working memory


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