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How many kids still believe in Santa; when does the magic end?

You better watch out. You better not cry.  Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.

We all know the traditional ”Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Christmas carol, and while kids sing along all season long, how many kids still believe in the big man in red?

A study, published by the Journal of Cognition and Development, found that  83 percent of 5-year-olds still believe that Santa is real. The latest research dates back to 2011, but in an article in The Conversation publication last year, the study’s author backed up her findings.

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Recently though, a applied developmental psychology professor said the number maybe slightly higher.

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Thalia Goldstein, an assistant professor at George Mason University, said the number may be as high as 85%, CNN reported.

Goldstein said that kids really start believing in Santa between the ages of 3 and 4. It’s strongest between 4 and 8.

“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,” Goldstein told CNN.

It all depends on how parents and adults promote Santa’s existence.

Goldstein co-authored a study with Jacqueline Woolley that was published last year, that found that if parents hype up Santa, then kids will believe more that the Santas they see in malls and at other holiday events are the real Santa. 

The pair studied a small sample of  77 children between the ages of 2 and 10. They were interviewed after they met with a person dressed as Santa Claus. The interviews found that 39.2 percent of the children believed the Santa they met was the same one who visited their homes leaving presents. More than 38 percent didn’t think the man in the suit was the real Santa, but that the stand-in also lived at the North Pole and reported back with the real Santa, CNN reported.

About 13 percent said the the man they told their Christmas list to wasn’t the real Santa but had similar characteristics, while 1% had what was called an “adult belief” that the person was not Santa, didn’t live at the North Pole but could communicate with Santa himself, CNN reported.

Children over the age of 10 were not part of the study because they on average don’t believe in Santa and “may have been reluctant to accompany their parents to this event,” the researchers wrote in their findings.

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