I’ve always wondered why some people avoid birthday hoopla. They don’t like being recognized on their special day and a party is too painful. But new research might shed some light on the issue. Maybe the birthday pooh-pooh-er’s haven’t outgrown their belief that the birthday party actually ages them.
Apparently, children prior to turning six or seven, “mistakenly believe that birthday parties cause aging.”
The research published in Imagination, Cognition, and Personality shows that nearly 40% of the preschoolers surveyed thought people would gain a year or two in age on their birthdays.
The study adds to research examining the ways in which children process of growing and aging. Usually around four years of age, children begin understanding that certain living things get bigger. In another year or so, they’ve figured out that living things eat food to grow. But, apparently birthdays and birthday parties “present a complication to the young brain, as it’s an event that’s indelibly linked to a person’s age, and by consequence, the aging process itself.”
Birthday Complications — No way
This isn’t the first study to find this result. Scientists in 2002 came to a similar conclusion, but their study was structured in such a way that the current child psychologist wanted to tackle it again with fewer limitations.
In the recent work, Jacqueline Woolley, a UT Austin prof, told stories about birthdays to nearly 100 kids between the ages of 3 and 5. One story was about a three-year-old who had no party, another who had a pair of parties, and a third about a child simply turning three.
The children were then asked how old the birthday child would be — 54% correctly said the no party child would still be three, but 38% of them thought the two party child would have aged more to turn either be four or five.
Woolley wrote in the study: “Children of all ages seemed to believe that not having a birthday party can halt, or possibly even reverse, the ageing process and that having multiple parties can speed it up.”‘