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Miraculous, magical, or mundane? The development of beliefs about stories with divine, magical, or realistic causation

Davoodi, Telli, Jamshidi-Sianaki, Maryam, Payir, Ayse, Cui, Yixin Kelly, Clegg, Jennifer, McLoughlin, Niamh, Harris, Paul L., Corriveau, Kathleen H. (2022) Miraculous, magical, or mundane? The development of beliefs about stories with divine, magical, or realistic causation. Memory & Cognition, . ISSN 0090-502X. E-ISSN 1532-5946. (doi:10.3758/s13421-021-01270-2) (KAR id:92652)

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Children’s naïve theories about causal regularities enable them to differentiate factual narratives describing real events and characters from fictional narratives describing made-up events and characters (Corriveau, Kim, Schwalen, & Harris, 2009). But what happens when children are consistently presented with accounts of miraculous and causally impossible events as real occurrences? Previous research has shown that preschoolers with consistent exposure to religious teaching tend to systematically judge characters involved in fantastical or religious events as real (Corriveau et al., 2015; Davoodi et al., 2016). In the current study, we extended this line of work by asking whether the scope of this influence is a domain-general effect or a domain-specific effect. We tested children in Iran, where regular exposure to uniform religious beliefs might influence children’s reasoning about possibility in non-religious domains, in addition to the domain of religion. Children with no or minimal schooling (5-6-year-olds) and older elementary school students (9-10-year-olds) judged the reality status of different kinds of stories, notably realistic, unusual (but nonetheless realistic), religious, and magical stories. We found that while younger children were not systematic in their judgments, older children often judged religious stories as real but rarely judged magical stories as real. This developmental pattern suggests that the impact of religious exposure on children’s reality judgments does not extend beyond their reasoning about divine intervention. Children’s justifications for their reality judgments provided further support for this domain-specific influence of religious teaching.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3758/s13421-021-01270-2
Uncontrolled keywords: Testimony, possibility, religion, community consensus, reality
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Niamh MCLOUGHLIN
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2022 11:43 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2023 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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