Meanings of wealth in European and Chinese fairy tales

Kenneth O. Doyle, MacKenzie R. Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The more we can understand the meanings people in different cultures attribute to money and property, the more we can help individuals and groups within and across those cultures reduce conflict and pursue constructive communication and interchange. This content analysis of European versus Chinese fairy tales produced 12 dimensions, upon which the authors compare and contrast the two cultures. Sample dimensions include Wealth Lost as Punishment for Evil Deeds, Wealth Gained as Reward for Good Deeds, Wealth as a Sign of Goodness, and Poverty as a Sign of Goodness. The authors find that Chinese fairy tales, more than European, focus on punishment, especially for acting out; European fairy tales, more than Chinese, express ambivalence about wealth; European fairy tales portray poverty as sometimes bad but often good, whereas Chinese fairy tales portray it always as bad. The authors relate their findings to illustrative pieces in the psychological and economic literatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2001


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