The Development of Values in Middle Childhood: Five Maturation Criteria

Ariel Knafo-Noam*, Ella Daniel, Maya Benish-Weisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Values, abstract motivational goals—guides for the right and wrong, the desirable and undesirable—relate to many important attitudes and behaviors. Although meaningful understanding of values exists already at age 5, most developmental value research has focused on adolescence. Not enough is known about what happens to children’s values during middle childhood, the period between these two life stages. We propose five criteria for value maturation, reflecting key cognitive and social advances in this period: (a) that children’s value coherence increasingly reflects the motivational associations among values and that, with age, values become increasingly (b) abstract (c) consistent, (d) stable, and (e) related to behavior. Values undergo profound developmental changes during middle childhood indicating that, the importance of adolescence notwithstanding, middle childhood is crucial for value maturation.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • middle childhood
  • value coherence
  • value consistency
  • value development
  • value stability
  • values


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