Objective: We examined changes in value interrelations during middle childhood. In line with the Personal Values Theory, we expected a value system, with individuals similarly valuing related motivations, and setting priorities between conflicting motivations. We hypothesized this system to develop dynamically during middle childhood as children deepen their understanding of their own values. Method: Using unfolding analysis, we estimated intraindividual value structure coherence, that is, the extent to which the interrelations among a child's values are similar to the hypothesized interrelations. Cross-Cultural Study 1 (N = 4615, 6–12-year-old children) included children from 12 countries. Cross-Sequential Study 2 (N = 629, 6–10-year-old children at Time 1) included three annual measurements. Results: In Study 1, we found a curvilinear association between age and intraindividual value structure coherence: Children's values were more coherent at ages 9–10 than before or after. Study 2 confirmed this pattern of within-individual development. Conclusions: We propose that development in coherence with the theoretical value structure offers insight into children's understanding of values as well as changes in value priorities.
- middle childhood
- value structure