People can get most of their needs broadly satisfied in two ways: by close communal ties and by dealings with people in the marketplace. These modes of relating—termed communal and market—often necessitate qualitatively different motives, behaviors, and mind-sets. We reasoned that activating market mode would produce behaviors consistent with it and impair behaviors consistent with communal mode. In a series of experiments, money—the market-mode cue—was presented to Polish children ages 3 to 6. We measured communal behavior by prosocial helpfulness and generosity and measured market behavior by performance and effort. Results showed that handling money (compared with other objects) increased laborious effort and reduced helpfulness and generosity. The effects of money primes were not due to the children’s mood, liking for money, or task engagement. This work is the first to demonstrate that young children tacitly understand market mode and also understand that money is a cue to shift into it.
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