I experienced a problem in changing values in an association and broke down the problem to the following: Given a list of association (here with one element):

temp = {<|"name" -> "Peter", "Punkte" -> 10, "Gender" -> "nn"|>}

then the following does not work:

temp[[1]]["Gender"] = "M"


assoc = temp[[1]]


assoc["Gender"] = "M"

works fine. I do not understand why?

  • $\begingroup$ I have covered exactly this case in this answer, towards the end of the section named "Complications". What works is temp[[1]][[Key["Gender"]]] = "M" (apart from suggestions from other answers, but I believe my suggestion is closer to your original attempt). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


When you try temp[[1]]["Gender"] = "M" you get a warning message:

Association::setps: <|name->Peter,Punkte->10,Gender->nn|> in the part assignment is not a symbol. >>

This is telling you that the syntax assoc[key] = value is only valid if assoc is a symbol. You get the same warning if you try <|a -> 1|>[a] = 2

The simplest solution is to use the Part syntax for changing the value:

temp[[1, "Gender"]] = "M"
(* "M" *)

(* {<|"name" -> "Peter", "Punkte" -> 10, "Gender" -> "M"|>}

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