Presentation on theme: "Children’s Reasoning on Their Personal Origins Natalie A. Emmons, Ph.D. Candidate Institute of Cognition & Culture, Queen’s University Belfast What do."— Presentation transcript:
Children’s Reasoning on Their Personal Origins Natalie A. Emmons, Ph.D. Candidate Institute of Cognition & Culture, Queen’s University Belfast What do I mean by origins? In the context of this study, I investigated at what age children reason that there was a point of origin that set life in motion and how their inferences based on that knowledge affected attributions of functional capacities during the pre-life period. Why study origins concepts? Under-explored research topic Studies on pre-life compliment existing work on after-life reasoning and may explain why after-life beliefs appear universally whereas pre-life beliefs do not. Cultural specifics Background Work (partial) Evans, Poling, Mull (2001): Only 8-10-year- olds consistently grasped that animals and artefacts were not always here. Bernstein & Cowan (1975): Most 3-4-year- olds believed babies have always existed; Most 7-8-year-olds used causal reasoning to explain baby origins but misunderstood reproductive processes; Half of 11-12-year- olds mentioned sperm and eggs as part of reproductive process, 40% cited fusion of genetic material as point of origin Goldman & Goldman (1982): Cross-national study showed that most 5- & 7-year-olds misunderstood reproductive mechanisms; by 9 years began giving realistic explanations for baby origins; Swedish sample approx. 4 years ahead of English speaking samples in levels of reasoning about baby origins INTRODUCTION METHOD *Shuar sample only received could framing References can be given upon request This research was partially funded by the John Templeton Foundation as part of the CRT project METHOD (continued) Design Four age groups: 5-6; 7-8; 9-10; 11-12 years Three periods: baby, in utero, pre-life Two question framing modalities: could, did* 12 questions divided into 6 categories: Could you(r)/ Did you(r) Biological: Eyes work; Heart beat? Psychobiological: Be Thirsty; Hungry? Perceptual: Watch; Listen to something? Epistemic: Think; Remember things? Emotional: Be Happy; Sad? Desire: Want; Desire anything? GRAPHS OF FINDINGS Conocoto sample, baby period Shuar sample, baby period Conocoto sample, in utero period Conocoto sample, pre-life period Shuar sample, in utero period Shuar sample, pre-life period Two Ecuadorian Cultural Groups Conocoto URBAN mestizo sample: 80% Catholic; Ecuadorian adults averaged 7.5 years of schooling in 2000 (Torres, 2005) Shuar RURAL indigenous sample: Claim affiliation with Catholic or Christian church but most are not actively practising members; this community averaged 6 years of schooling with a 4 year standard deviation in a recent poll (Barrett, n.d.) Purpose of Investigation To determine the development of reasoning about one’s own mental and biological attributes during three distinct periods in the past; when one was a baby, while in utero, and prior to conception (i.e., pre-life) Procedure Participants introduced to three drawings used to depict three developmental periods; asked to complete ordering task of images; completed question sets. RESULTS Coding Initial ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response + justification used to determine if responses indicated Functional or Non-functional reasoning. 6 codes used. The Functional and Functional- I don’t know codes comprised ‘Functional responses’ Major Findings (based on ANOVAs) Mean number of ‘Functional responses’ used as dependent variable; mean out of 2. Significance reported at p <.05 Gender and Framing collapsed across variables: Gender no effect, Framing* had a main effect, p =.05, partial eta-squared small, η p 2 =.02. Interactions not sig. Conocoto Sample (N =211): all age groups reasoned that they had more mental and biological functions as a baby > in utero > pre-life For baby period, Question category (Q.C.) and the Q.C. X Age Group (A.G.) interaction resulted in sig.effects. For in utero period, A.G., Q.C. & the Q.C. X A.G. interaction resulted in sig. effects. The A.G. effect was limited to 5-6 > 7-8 For pre-life period, A.G., Q.C. & the Q.C. X A.G. interaction resulted in sig. effects. A.G. effect was 5-6 > 7-8, 9-10, 11-12; 7-8 > 11-12. For Q.C. as age increased, emotional and desire states remained resistant to less attributions of function. Shuar Sample (N = 72): 9-10 & 11-13 reasoned that they had more capacities as a baby > in utero > pre-life; 5-6 & 7-8 reasoned baby > in utero = pre-life For baby period, only Q.C. produced a main effect. For in utero period, only Q.C. produced a main effect. For pre-life period, A.G. & Q.C. produced main effects. A.G. Effect was 5-6 = 7-8 > 11-13; 5-6 > 9-10. For Q.C. by 11-13, emotional > psychobiological & perceptual; desire = other question categories Cultural Group Effects: a main effect of cultural group only appeared in the in utero period, Shuar group gave fewer functional responses than Conocoto group. For this period, A.G. & the Q.C. X Cultural Group interaction also had sig. effects. CONCLUSION The development of pre-life reasoning appears to be related to age group. Ecuadorian children younger than 9-10 do not seem to fully grasp the concept of an origin point and give either higher than chance rates of function (5-6) or at chance rates (7-8) for the pre-life period. Question category differences also emerged but were dependent upon cultural group.