COGNITIVE SCIENCE

A hammer is a hammer is a hammer

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 317
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6361.317-a

Children begin to understand the difference between institutional objects (such as money) and standard artifacts (such as hammers) at a young age.

PHOTO: ISTOCK.COM/DANCHOOALEX

Hammers are designed to strike other objects, such as a nail or a rivet. A hammer's use is independent of cultural norms or social agreements, in contrast to money, whose value and function as a medium of exchange very much relies on a common understanding, which can change when the consensus changes. Noyes et al. show that young children begin to grasp the difference between what the authors refer to as institutional (socially dependent) objects and standard artifacts, such as hammers and chairs, between the ages of 4 and 9 years.

Cognition 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.09.008 (2017).

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