A new study published in Cognitive Science claims that children who are exposed to religion have more difficulty determining between fact and fiction than children of a secular upbringing. The study on 5 and 6-year-olds tested the children’s ability to differentiate between religious, fantastical and realistic stories.
The 66 children involved in the research were divided into groups by church or parochial school attendance or a secular lifestyle. Researchers then gauged how well the children could pick out impossible elements in the fantastical stories such as talking animals. Another test turned religious stories into fictional narratives and found “religious children would more heavily rely on religion to justify their false categorizations,” reports the Huffington Post.
“In both studies, [children exposed to religious] were less likely to judge the characters in the fantastical stories as pretend, and in line with this equivocation, they made more appeals to reality and fewer appeals to impossibility than did secular children,” the report determined.
The authors of the report believe that their research suggests “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.” That said, the researchers claim their work refutes previous ideas that children are “born believers.”
Publication date: July 22, 2014