If you don't want to grow older, don't have a birthday party. It's simple.
According to a study of preschoolers at least.
The study, published in the journal Imagination, Cognition and Personality, found that:
Children interpret the birthday party as playing a causal role in the aging process.
Or, that a substantial amount of children believe a birthday party is where you grow a year older - not the year in between each.
In two studies, the researchers examined 99 three-to-five-year-old American children's concepts of age, ageing and birthdays.
For the first part of the study, they posed numerous different scenarios in which a child was about to have their third birthday.
- In the first, the child had no party on their birthday.
- In the second, the child had two parties.
- In the third, the child had a single birthday party.
They were then asked what age the child would be in each scenario; 28 per cent of the children said the child would not turn three unless they had a party. Some 9 per cent thought the lack of party would make them turn four years old.
Interestingly, 44 out of 48 answered correctly when they were asked their age.
The results show how humans develop their sense of time and age, and that the milestones of birthdays are seen by some at a young age as a ceremony in which we age ourselves, rather than marking a milestone in the gradual process.
The study read:
In the absence of easily clear physical, biological, or verbal cues to what causes changes in age, children appear to turn to an event that is directly correlated with cultural reference to the aging process – the birthday party.
If only it were completely true - we'd all be dodging parties when we turned 21.
HT IFL Science