The Ghost in My Body: Children’s Developing Concept of the Soul* R ebekah A. R ichert and ** P aul L. H arris *** ABSTRACT Two experiments were conducted to explore whether children, who have been exposed to the concept of the soul, di ﬀ erentiate the soul from the mind. In the ﬁ rst experiment, 4- to 12-year-old children were asked about whether a religious ritual a ﬀ ects the mind, the brain, or the soul. The majority of the children claimed that only the soul was di ﬀ erent after baptism. In a follow-up study, 6- to 12-year-old children were tested more explicitly on what factors di ﬀ erentiate the soul from the mind and the brain. Children di ﬀ erentiated the soul from the mind and the brain along two dimensions: function and stability. In contrast to their responses about the mind and the brain, children did not claim that the soul was important for cognitive, non-cognitive, or biological functioning. Children consistently indicated that the mind and the brain change and grow over time. In contrast, children indicated that the soul is something that stays constant and is devoted to various, predominantly spiritual, functions. By
Journal of Cognition and Culture – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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