Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events

Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156853711X591279 Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (2011) 311–337 brill.nl/jocc Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events Jacqueline D. Woolley * , Chelsea A. Cornelius and Walter Lacy Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A8000, TX 78712, USA *Corresponding author, e-mail: woolley@psy.utexas.edu Abstract The focus of this research is to explore the developmental trajectory of the propensity to see meaning in unexpected or chance events, and more specifically, to explore the origin and development of nonmaterial or supernatural explanations. Sixty-seven children aged 8, 10 and 12, along with 22 adults, were presented with scenarios describing unusual or unexpected events. They were first asked to provide explanations for why they thought the events occurred and then asked to rate different supernatural explanations (moral justice, God and luck) as they pertained to each scenario. Results indicated that adults spontaneously appealed to supernatural explanations more frequently than did children, and that this tendency to appeal to supernatural concepts increased with age. Participants of all ages frequently endorsed multiple explanations for the same events and were more likely to endorse supernatural explanations for positively valenced http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Cognition and Culture Brill

Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1567-7095
eISSN
1568-5373
DOI
10.1163/156853711X591279
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156853711X591279 Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (2011) 311–337 brill.nl/jocc Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events Jacqueline D. Woolley * , Chelsea A. Cornelius and Walter Lacy Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A8000, TX 78712, USA *Corresponding author, e-mail: woolley@psy.utexas.edu Abstract The focus of this research is to explore the developmental trajectory of the propensity to see meaning in unexpected or chance events, and more specifically, to explore the origin and development of nonmaterial or supernatural explanations. Sixty-seven children aged 8, 10 and 12, along with 22 adults, were presented with scenarios describing unusual or unexpected events. They were first asked to provide explanations for why they thought the events occurred and then asked to rate different supernatural explanations (moral justice, God and luck) as they pertained to each scenario. Results indicated that adults spontaneously appealed to supernatural explanations more frequently than did children, and that this tendency to appeal to supernatural concepts increased with age. Participants of all ages frequently endorsed multiple explanations for the same events and were more likely to endorse supernatural explanations for positively valenced

Journal

Journal of Cognition and CultureBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2011

Keywords: explanatory systems; moral justice; Supernatural explanations; religion

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