Exploring the relation between preschool children's magical beliefs and causal thinking

Exploring the relation between preschool children's magical beliefs and causal thinking Three studies are presented which examine the degree to which children engage in magical thinking. We suggest that this is not a monolithic question that can be answered by a simple ‘yes' or ‘no’, but involves a number of different facets, including parental input, children's spontaneous beliefs and children's responses to magical events. Conceptions about children's beliefs in magical and fantasy figures were assessed by means of a parent survey. Parents reported that children believe in the reality of a number of fantasy figures and that parents encourage these beliefs to some degree. In Study 2,4‐ and 5‐year‐old children made a clear distinction between possible and impossible transformations of animals and did not invoke magical means to produce any outcome. In Study 3 children were asked if a magician could cause certain animal transformations. Here, the 4‐ and 5‐year‐olds made no distinction between possible and impossible events, reporting that for a magician none of these events was impossible. Few children said that magicians used trickery, instead suggesting that ‘real’ magic was involved. Taken together these studies suggest that children hold a belief in magic, but not an overwhelming ‘magical’ orientation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png British Journal of Developmental Psychology Wiley

Exploring the relation between preschool children's magical beliefs and causal thinking

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1994 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0261-510X
eISSN
2044-835X
DOI
10.1111/j.2044-835X.1994.tb00619.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Three studies are presented which examine the degree to which children engage in magical thinking. We suggest that this is not a monolithic question that can be answered by a simple ‘yes' or ‘no’, but involves a number of different facets, including parental input, children's spontaneous beliefs and children's responses to magical events. Conceptions about children's beliefs in magical and fantasy figures were assessed by means of a parent survey. Parents reported that children believe in the reality of a number of fantasy figures and that parents encourage these beliefs to some degree. In Study 2,4‐ and 5‐year‐old children made a clear distinction between possible and impossible transformations of animals and did not invoke magical means to produce any outcome. In Study 3 children were asked if a magician could cause certain animal transformations. Here, the 4‐ and 5‐year‐olds made no distinction between possible and impossible events, reporting that for a magician none of these events was impossible. Few children said that magicians used trickery, instead suggesting that ‘real’ magic was involved. Taken together these studies suggest that children hold a belief in magic, but not an overwhelming ‘magical’ orientation.

Journal

British Journal of Developmental PsychologyWiley

Published: Mar 1, 1994

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