At what ages do children stop believing in Santa Claus?

Research in the Journal of Cognition and Development in 2011 shows that 83% of 5-year-olds think that Santa Claus is real, the study’s lead author, Jacqueline Woolley, wrote in The Conversation last year.

“We have found in more recent studies that that number of 85% sounds about right,” said Thalia Goldstein, assistant professor of applied developmental psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

“Children’s belief in Santa starts when they’re between 3 and 4 years old. It’s very strong when they’re between about 4 and 8,” she said. “Then, at 8 years old is when we start to see the drop-off in belief, when children start to understand the reality of Santa Claus.”

What about across the pond?  They seem to be asleep over there:

Of 161 parents in the United Kingdom, 92.5% thought Father Christmas was real for their children up to the age of 8, according to a research paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association in Finland in 1999.

And here is a study vulnerable to the replication crisis:

The interviews revealed that 39.2% of the children believed that the man they visited was the same Santa who came down their chimneys…1.3% had a somewhat “adult belief,” Goldstein said, in which they said that the man was not Santa and did not live at the North Pole but could communicate with the real Santa.

That is a CNN article from last year.  Why is the word “marginal” declining in popularity?  How many seven year olds know what “marginal” means?  How many know not to believe everything the President says?  How many understand hedging?


Mr. Netanyahu has decided not to stay for President Captain's Bolsonaro inauguration. We know the timing is bad with a political crisis at home and the fact people prefer to spend the first day of the year with their families. It is hard to get heads of state to visit in 1st January. However, maybe President Captain Bolsonaro's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Zionist Entity should merit more attention and respect. Please, send messages to the embassy asking Mr. Netanyahu to stay for the inauguration. It would send an important message of cooperation between our peoples.

try to focus
the post is not about brazilians
who believe in bolsanaro
its about children who believe in santa
looks like most of the children in congress believe in
santa if they construct a a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit

My point is about character. Is it right to betray an ally? President Captain Bolsonaro is willing to give up billions of dollars in business with the Arab regimes, recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Zionist Entity and buy from it a pricey desalinization system. Maybe Brazil deserves some recognition. Can any nation stand alone?

this country got 21trillion in lones
We can't stand too many more
looney lones

Thanks , I've just been looking for information about his topic
for a long time and yours is the greatest I've discovered
so far. But, what about the bottom line? Are you surre concerning the source?

This is useful context for this story:

Seven or eight is way too old to believe in Santa Clause in Australia, but not too old to pretend to believe in him to keep the sacks full of Christmas gifts coming.

But plenty of people here here tell children that Santa is "just pretend". I think it's cruel not to tell them because being bribed with presents to pretend to believe a lie can be stressful. Especially for those children who are taught to be honest. Children can still enjoy the concept of Santa Clause without having to believe he is real. If you don't believe me you had better throw out all their toys because -- trust me -- children actually know their toy trucks aren't real trucks and their action figures aren't really She-Ra and He-Man.

Exactly. I have always told my daughter that Santa Claus is a fun story, and that it's fun to pretend. But that's it.

Some friends asked me what I'd say if she asks if Santa Claus is real. I said, "I'll tell her the truth."

Then they said, "What if she tells all the other kids at school that Santa isn't real?"

I told them, "I'm not going to lie to my children."

I have no idea why people cooked up this bizarre, elaborate pretense of an imaginary Santa Claus. There's nothing wrong with having fun and playing make-believe with your children, but to actively foster a fantastical belief that you expect to disrupt a few years later is... bizarre, IMHO.

That's what my wife and I did. It seems just as much fun when they know it's not real.

Not just fun but useful. Imagine there's someone ought there who knows everything you've done, everything you thought, and at some point the two of you are gonna have a sit-down and review the record.

Exactly. And it would be terrible if the Chinese government, for example, were to here if this. Imagine their take on the scenario.

*hear of

That is the way I was raised, and the way we raised our daughter. We never believed in Santa Claus. I was also instructed, however, not to tell the other children at school that there was no Santa Clause, lest it upset them. (We didn't give our daughter that rule; I don't remember why not.) One time, about first grade, a dispute started between the Santa believers and the unbelievers, and both sides solicited my support. So despite my instructions, I had to express my Santa unbelief. As the dispute escalated, the teacher took the unbelievers aside, told us that we were right, but also told us not to discuss the issue further.

At least Santa is relatively benign in the English speaking world. But there are parents who expect their children to believe in all sorts of horrifying supernatural entities, including ones that will torture them eternally. I'm surprised it's not considered child abuse in my country.

With that attitude, you aren't an anthropologist, are you?

No, I'm just Australian. I've been told we are less sentimental than the average inhabitant of the earth.

Don't worry, parents. It is perfectly alright to tell your child Santa is coming, and fine for him to learn at school - or work out on his own - the truth. And it's no bad thing for kids to pretend, even after they've stopped, that they believe in Santa. This might mark the first time children consider things from their parents' point of view.

Not-from-you is the way your kid will learn most things. If you think otherwise, you are in for some disappointment.

In fact, I would venture that when all the other children are having their Santa fun, it might just be more upsetting to be find psychology in your stocking. "Santa isn't real. The other kids may think so, but we would never lie to you - about anything - and we didn't want to damage you. The other kids apparently take it fine, but it would have made you really upset, and this way, you'll never have to be." Okay, thanks.

Gosh, you sound as though believing in Santa Claus is the only way to have fun at Christmas.

I think there are a number of fun things about Christmas. I remember from a former life, getting all dressed up for the candlelight Christmas Eve service ... made even more fun if you're a regular churchgoing Protestant (this one night, there's a sense of drama in the sanctuary, squirmy children holding candles, wielding fire). Monday night Mother said, they only have one service now, we're going at seven. "Oh!" I replied, "I wasn't planning to go - I didn't bring clothes (-; ..." You're fine, she said, it's not like it used to be. (I was at that moment wearing the "exercise capris" and tee shirt I rode in on.)

Then there's getting together with your large extended family - fun indeed for a child, if your family remembered to have a large extended family.

But the consumer aspect, all by itself? If toys and gifts were very rare, perhaps, but I'm not ready to concede at this date, in this culture, that it is quite as much fun without the little element of play that Santa brings, parent and child conspiring in a little game of pretend once during the year.

And perhaps even in a time of scarcity, the game makes the meager gifts shine - the Christmas passages in the now-renounced little Laura books come to mind ...

Ah, so you admit there are ways to have fun at Christmas that don't involve Santa. Great!

I don't think anyone was making an argument for promoting "the consumer aspect" of Christmas "all by itself," so I'll not respond to that.

I don't think anyone really *needs* to make that argument - it's doing fine "all by itself."

I think I'm old enough to remember when MR ran "how can Trump be bad, if the market's good?" stories. Good times.

Santa is probably not the most directly related topical follow-up.

Up at 5:15 am to make low effort shitposts about Trump on a Santa Claus thread?


Me and the dog get up early. It's a nice quiet time, with fresh coffee .. and you.

Merry Christmas.

If Trump can shittweet at odd hours of the day, then why can't anybody else? Is he king or something?

Sorry, I get it now. This was really an "At what ages do conservatives stop believing in Trump?" joke.

Dilbert guy will probably be the holdout. So much invested in the hidden genius theory.

Oh I thought it was about trickle down

What's sad about Scott Adams is he's a really smart guy, who deserves credit for seeing what could happen, but he's got the reasons wrong. He can't believe people are so stupid and partisan, so there must be some special hypnotic genius power Trump uses. Nope, people are stupid and partisan.

Nope. What Trump did is truly astonishing. Remember him sitting in the audience with Obama giving him shit? I laughed at the guy then. If what Trump did was so easy to do, there'd by a long line of these types.

Adams saw something too. He wasn't a Trump guy or Republican or even very political, and he had a fine gig pumping out his stuff. He didn't have to stand up and single out Trump, and most people thought he was nuts at the time. What was his angle, other than reporting what he was seeing?

I don't see how it pays to underestimate either of these guys.

Let me guess, you are still averting your eyes from the tweets, even as they define US policy on economic, diplomatic, and military fronts ..


Sure, I ask you if you are reading what the guy says, and you shout back in all caps.

That convinces us that you are holding him to the standard one would expect for the highest office of the land.

Astonishing? Of course. Due to genius? Not a chance. I still laugh at Trump, he's laughable. But he's obviously great at reading a room and pushing buttons and getting what he wants.

It doesn't pay or not pay whatever we think about Trump, we're just one vote and anonymous pixels.

I stand by it, Trump is no genius. But he's clearly got talent. And I stand by my take on Adams, he was absolutely spot on about Trump, but I disagree with his reasoning.

When Trump got roasted by Obama, the whole room laughed at him. Now thanks to Trump, the whole world laughs at us.

About what? That American foreign policy will now be governed by its national interest, not some "global" interest?

'will now be governed by its national interest'

Oddly, a number of people outside of the U.S. - such as potential Harley purchasers - actually seem to disagree, at least in terms of actually buying a Harley.

In other words: how long are American children today permitted to remain children?

(Forget Huck Finn's floating into puberty as a young teen, this ain't the 19th century any more!)

If American children are shedding Santa Claus soon after attaining age 8 (well on the way to acquiring the adult aspirations that will serve them well throughout life!), surely their dutiful parents are enrolling them in MBA-prep or MFA-prep coursework no later than their kids attain age 9.

may be Trump is reading this blog ! After all he is propagating "marginal" to 7 year olds.

Should come naturally but I'd say around 10-11

Around age 6 for me, when I climbed a hill behind our house and saw that the chimney vent is actually quite small. I pointed this out to my mom, who confirmed my suspicions. But I also remember arguing with other third-graders over the Santa Claus thesis.

There's no Santa Claus?

My faith is starting to waver since this has been the 34th Christmas in a row that Santa hasn't brought me an Amiga.

I like that one. Here's hoping for next year!

Thanks! Hope springs eternal...

Trump does something nice; Tyler has to turn it into a discussion of how he's lying to children. Pathetic.

As for believing in myths, age 8 is the right answer for Santa. Believing in Global Warming appears to persist until about age 34 on average.

This is what they call “living rent free in their heads “. Trump has a special talent for securing free mental lodging.

Is that why Trump went bankrupt 4 times? Because people were living rent free in his hotels? Thanks to Mueller, Trump will live rent free in Sing Sing.

Are you accusing Tyler of wrongthink? Trumpanzees are the latest it seems to hate free speech.

Believing in Santa Claus at any age is no more marginal than believing that trade wars help the economy.

Or that exercise shortens your lifespan because humans are born with a finite amount of energy like batteries.

I'm going to carry my passport with me at all times when I visit the US in case I need to buy groceries.

And unless we have a see through wall, Mexican drug catapults will continue to kill Americans on a regular basis.

There’s a psychology study out there showing Keynesians believe in Santa Claus at much higher rates.

Very appropriate. Is Nancy Pelosi listening though?

If Republicans aren't Keynesians, what is their theory behind this?

New (September 2018) estimate: GOP’s second tax cuts would add $3.8 trillion to deficit

I don't think that one passed the Senate, but still. This play acting that Democrats don't understand economics is getting pretty stale.

You’ll notice that revenues for FY18 were higher than those for FY17, despite, or because of the last tax cuts. Sure, let’s continue to predict higher deficits because of tax cuts. Last year’s deficit increase was due to increased spending.

The cfrb, center for responsible budget:

"While individual income tax receipts have increased in nominal dollars since last fiscal year, this statistic paints a misleading picture in a number of ways. Specifically, it ignores reductions in other sources of revenue, doesn't account for inflation, and relies in part on revenue raised by last year's tax code. Considering the entire tax code and focusing specifically on this tax year shows that total revenue has declined between 4 and 9 percent. "

What good is a Keynesian Santa Claus? You only get free stuff once or twice a century. Supply Side Santa is who you want. The fewer gifts you give, the more gifts you get!

This is a good joke, that almost works. But all Keynesians really have to believe in is business cycles, and that monetary policy is not the only thing government can do in response.

At what age do people stop believing in God despite lack of evidence?
Which is why churches maintain constant pressure and social reinforcement .
It would be relatively easy to create a new denomination that says Santa Claus IS real, despite no evidence supporting it. Kind of like Bernie Sanders insisting that government as Santa Claus is real. Kids in college still believe. Even Nobel Prize winners still believe.

Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell still believe in Santa Clause..

He will give them presents for a tax cut with a promise of a Happy New Year.


You will get a lump of coal.

Sorry, Clean Coal.

The framing is wrong. The question is not whether Santa is "real," but rather what is the nature of Santa's reality. Children are not as stupid as the literalists would have us believe. Ask whether Donald Trump is real. That is not such an easy question to answer.

When my kids asked me if Santa exists I told them to collect the evidence for and against, evaluate it, and arrive at their own conclusion, which they could of course update if they found more evidence or a flaw in their reasoning. They are now headed off to higher ed. (one to Stanford, the other to DeAnza). Based on the evidence they agree that Santa probably doesn't really exist, but they are leaving a small degree of possibility open just in case.

re Santa: Age 7 we moved to a bigger house with a chimney. I realized the chimney was too narrow for Santa and that my mom would never leave the front door unlocked for him. QED. Later (not sure when) I figured out he could not go to so many homes so fast.

The president's usage of marginal is different than the eponymous blog, but still correct.

Would Pascal's Wager apply to the Santa Question?

Believe in Santa Clause because if he's not real it's your children who will get screwed over when they don't get any presents?

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