The circle of life : a cross-cultural comparison of children's attribution of life-cycle traits
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Do children attribute mortality and other life-cycle traits to all minded beings? The present study examined whether culture influences young children's ability to conceptualize and differentiate human beings from supernatural beings (such as God) in terms of life-cycle traits. Three-to-5-year-old Israeli and British children were questioned whether their mother, a friend, and God would be subject to various life-cycle processes: Birth, death, ageing, existence/longevity, and parentage. Children did not anthropomorphize but differentiated among human and supernatural beings, attributing life-cycle traits to humans, but not to God. Although 3-year-olds differentiated significantly among agents, 5-year-olds attributed correct life-cycle traits more consistently than younger children. The results also indicated some cross-cultural variation in these attributions. Implications for biological conceptual development are discussed.
Burdett , E R R & Barrett , J L 2016 , ' The circle of life : a cross-cultural comparison of children's attribution of life-cycle traits ' British Journal of Developmental Psychology , vol 34 , no. 2 , pp. 276-290 . DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12131
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
© 2015 The British Psychological Society. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjdp.12131
This research was supported in part by grant 12682 from the John Templeton Foundation.
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