Funding for this research was provided by National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Grant HD022149 to Henry M. Wellman and by a Rackham School of Graduate Studies Research Grant to Jonathan D. Lane. We are very grateful to the children and parents who participated in this study and to the teachers and staff at the University of Michigan Children’s Centers, Cornerstone Christian School, Go Like the Wind Montessori School, Lil’ Saints Preschool, Livingston Christian School, and Our Father’s Child Preschool. We also thank Jessie Emerick for her help coding children’s open-ended responses. The manuscript benefited from suggestions provided by two anonymous reviewers on earlier drafts. Portions of this research were presented at the biennial meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, October 2009.
Sociocultural Input Facilitates Children’s Developing Understanding of Extraordinary Minds
Article first published online: 28 FEB 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 83, Issue 3, pages 1007–1021, May/June 2012
How to Cite
Lane, J. D., Wellman, H. M. and Evans, E. M. (2012), Sociocultural Input Facilitates Children’s Developing Understanding of Extraordinary Minds. Child Development, 83: 1007–1021. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01741.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 28 FEB 2012
Three- to 5-year-old (N = 61) religiously schooled preschoolers received theory-of-mind (ToM) tasks about the mental states of ordinary humans and agents with exceptional perceptual or mental capacities. Consistent with an anthropomorphism hypothesis, children beginning to appreciate limitations of human minds (e.g., ignorance) attributed those limits to God. Only 5-year-olds differentiated between humans’ fallible minds and God’s less fallible mind. Unlike secularly schooled children, religiously schooled 4-year-olds did appreciate another agent’s less fallible mental abilities when instructed and reminded about those abilities. Among children who understood ordinary humans’ mental fallibilities, knowledge of God predicted attributions of correct epistemic states to extraordinary agents. Results suggest that, at a certain point in ToM development, sociocultural input can facilitate an appreciation for extraordinary minds.