Planes, trains, automobiles--and tea sets: extremely intense interests in very young children

Dev Psychol. 2007 Nov;43(6):1579-1586. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.6.1579.


Some normally developing young children show an intense, passionate interest in a particular category of objects or activities. The present article documents the existence of extremely intense interests that emerge very early in life and establishes some of the basic parameters of the phenomenon. Surveys and interviews with 177 parents revealed that nearly one third of young children have extremely intense interests. The nature of these intense interests is described, with particular focus on their emergence, commonalities in the content of the interests, and the reactions of other people to them. One of the most striking findings is a large gender difference: Extremely intense interests are much more common for young boys than for girls.

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Automobiles*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Railroads*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stereotyped Behavior*