This preview shows page 197 - 199 out of 308 pages.
Although children were generally inflexible as to the conscious breach of ritualisticactions, the oldest children were more flexible in considering the outcome of theaction, even if done incorrectly. This tendency may reflect a similar trajectory tochildren’s belief in prayer. In other words, prioritizing the intentionality of the ritualactor over the ritual actions may reflect a changing understanding of the role ofmental–physical causality. Importantly, these findings suggest that children’s earlyunderstanding of rituals builds on their belief in causality; that effects have causes(e.g., being “saved” is the result of some kind of action) and that causes have effects(e.g., ritual actions produce a cause, even if it is invisible).12.4 Psychological Essentialism and DualismDevelopmental research into cognitive foundations of the concept of the soulrecently has received an increasing amount of attention. Bloom (2004) has arguedearly animacy and inanimacy distinctions by infants develop into a dualistic under-standing of humans consisting of distinct and separate bodies and minds. How-ever, as is outlined below, dualistic explanations of a mind/body distinction haveoften grouped together the concepts of the mind and the soul. Recent research hasaddressed whether and at what ages children begin to differentiate a third aspect ofhumanness: the soul.12.4.1 SoulIn two experiments, Richert and Harris (2006) disentangled children’s developingconcept of the soul, with a particular emphasis on its differentiation from the mind
190R.A. Richert and E.I. Smithand the body. In the first experiment, children from Lutheran churches between4- and 12-years old were asked to consider what changes occur as a result of bap-tism. Specifically, children were asked if there was internal or external change, inother words if the change could be seen and/or touched. Additionally, children wereasked to consider if the baptism was associated with changes in the brain, mind,and/or soul. Children provided more theologically correct answers with age (e.g.,baptism resulting in an internal change that cannot be seen or touched). Moreover,children of all ages were much more likely to claim that the soul changes after bap-tism, compared to the brain or the mind.A second experiment examined more specifically how children differentiate thesoul, mind, and brain. First, third, and fifth graders from Catholic schools were askedto think about the brain, mind, and soul of a newborn baby. Although many of theyoungest children believed that a newborn baby had a soul, the older children wereeven more likely to agree with that statement. Additionally, although the youngerchildren agreed a baby would not be the same without her or his brain, mind, or soul,the belief that individuals would not be the same without their soul was strongestfor the oldest children (Richert and Harris 2006).