The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development

The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development Although often conceptualized in contradictory terms, the common assumption that natural and supernatural explanations are incompatible is psychologically inaccurate. Instead, there is considerable evidence that the same individuals use both natural and supernatural explanations to interpret the very same events and that there are multiple ways in which both kinds of explanations coexist in individual minds. Converging developmental research from diverse cultural contexts in 3 areas of biological thought (i.e., the origin of species, illness, and death) is reviewed to support this claim. Contrary to traditional accounts of cognitive development, new evidence indicates that supernatural explanations often increase rather than decrease with age and supports the proposal that reasoning about supernatural phenomena is an integral and enduring aspect of human cognition. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Child Development Wiley

The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
ISSN
0009-3920
eISSN
1467-8624
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01743.x
pmid
22417318
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although often conceptualized in contradictory terms, the common assumption that natural and supernatural explanations are incompatible is psychologically inaccurate. Instead, there is considerable evidence that the same individuals use both natural and supernatural explanations to interpret the very same events and that there are multiple ways in which both kinds of explanations coexist in individual minds. Converging developmental research from diverse cultural contexts in 3 areas of biological thought (i.e., the origin of species, illness, and death) is reviewed to support this claim. Contrary to traditional accounts of cognitive development, new evidence indicates that supernatural explanations often increase rather than decrease with age and supports the proposal that reasoning about supernatural phenomena is an integral and enduring aspect of human cognition.

Journal

Child DevelopmentWiley

Published: May 1, 2012

References

  • Understanding mortality and the life of the ancestors in rural Madagascar
    Astuti, Astuti; Harris, Harris
  • Eliciting self‐explanations improves understanding
    Chi, Chi; DeLeeuw, DeLeeuw; Chiu, Chiu; LaVancher, LaVancher
  • Cognitive and contextual factors in the emergence of diverse belief systems: Creation versus evolution
    Evans, Evans

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