Ideas versus labor: What do children value in artistic creation?

Vivian Li, Alex Shaw, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


As scientists, we primarily award authorship, as well as legal patents, to those who generate ideas, often without formally crediting others who executed the actual experiments. However, little is known about how and when people come to value ideas. Here, we investigate whether young children also value ideas over labor. In Study 1, we found that 4 and 6. year olds preferred pictures containing their ideas to those containing their labor. In Study 2 we rule out an alternative explanation-that children simply favor pictures containing their idiosyncratic preferences-by discovering that 6. year olds, but not 4. year olds chose a picture they mistakenly believed contained their idea, over a picture that contained their idiosyncratic preferences. Consistent with these results, using a third-party design in Study 3, we found that 6. year olds, but not 4. year olds favored a person who only contributed an idea over another who only contributed labor in awarding ownership. Across three studies, these results suggest that by 6. years old, children value ideas over labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Cognitive development
  • Ideas
  • Intellectual property


Dive into the research topics of 'Ideas versus labor: What do children value in artistic creation?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this