Development of Afterlife Beliefs in Childhood: Relationship to Parent Beliefs and Testimony

  title={Development of Afterlife Beliefs in Childhood: Relationship to Parent Beliefs and Testimony},
  author={Plousia Misailidi and Ekaterina N. Kornilaki},
  journal={Merrill-Palmer Quarterly},
  pages={290 - 318}
This study examined the development of children’s reasoning about the afterlife and its relationship with parental afterlife beliefs and testimony. A total of 123 children aged 5, 7, and 10 years were read a story describing the events that led to a person’s death. After hearing the story, children were asked questions about the dead agent’s biological, perceptual, epistemic-volitional, and emotional states and about the agent’s capacity to engage in conscious mental activity. Parents completed… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Afterlife future thinking: imagining oneself beyond death.

Studies on episodic future thinking (the capacity to simulate possible experiences in one's personal future) have ignored future thinking that extends beyond death. We here examined personal

Children's Theories of the Self.

It is suggested that preschoolers possess stable, coherent, and predictive theories about the nature of the self that are stable across individuals, early emerging, and in some cases undergo interesting developmental change.

‘There is no right or wrong answer’: Swedish preschool teachers’ reflections on the didactics of death

This study is part of a larger project with the general aim of developing the ability of preschool teachers to reflect critically on questions, topics and theories related to different understandings

Dead-Survivors, the Living Dead, and Concepts of Death

The author introduces and critically analyzes two recent, curious findings and their accompanying explanations regarding how the folk intuits the capabilities of the dead and those in a persistent

Dead-Survivors, the Living Dead, and Concepts of Death

  • K. Hodge
  • Philosophy
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology
  • 2018
The author introduces and critically analyzes two recent, curious findings and their accompanying explanations regarding how the folk intuits the capabilities of the dead and those in a persistent

End Time and Emotions: Emotion Regulation Functions of Eschatological Expectations among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway

The aim of this qualitative interview study was to explore the specific expectations that N = 29 Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) had of end times and paradise using an emotion regulation perspective.



The development of afterlife beliefs in religiously and secularly schooled children.

Although children attending Catholic school were generally more likely to state that functions continue after death than children attending secular school, the pattern of change with regard to question type did not differ between the Catholic and secular groups.

The natural emergence of reasoning about the afterlife as a developmental regularity.

Findings suggest that developmental mechanisms underlie intuitive accounts of dead agents' minds, and that older children and adults were likely to attribute epistemic, emotional, and desire states to dead agents.

Children's Acceptance of Conflicting Testimony: The Case of Death

Children aged 7 and 11 years were interviewed about death in the context of two different narratives. Each narrative described the death of a grandparent but one narrative provided a secular context

Gravity, God and ghosts? Parents’ beliefs in science, religion, and the paranormal and the encouragement of beliefs in their children

Using a questionnaire, the present study examined parents’ beliefs regarding the development of children’s beliefs about science, religion, and the paranormal. The study also investigated parental

Trust in testimony: how children learn about science and religion.

Children's understanding of God's special powers and the afterlife shows that their acceptance of others' testimony extends beyond the empirical domain, and children appear to conceptualize unobservable scientific and religious entities similarly.

Social and Cognitive Influences on the Development of Religious Beliefs and Commitment in Adolescence

It has been proposed that adolescents are likely to change or maintain, expand or abandon their religious beliefs and practices because of pressure from parents or peers, because of cognitive

The folk psychology of souls

  • J. Bering
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 2006
The central thesis of the present article is that an organized cognitive “system” dedicated to forming illusory representations of psychological immortality, the intelligent design of the self, and the symbolic meaning of natural events evolved in response to the unique selective pressures of the human social environment.

Immortality of the Soul as an Intuitive Idea: Towards a Psychological Explanation of the Origins of Afterlife Beliefs

AbstractThis study tried to investigate if intuitive ideas about the continuation of the Self after death determine the way people represent the state of being dead, and, in this way, investigate

Does God make it real? Children's belief in religious stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

It is concluded that God's involvement in a story influences children's belief in the reality of the characters and events in that story.

Intuitive Conceptions of Dead Agents' Minds: The Natural Foundations of Afterlife Beliefs as Phenomenological Boundary

Little is known about how the minds of dead agents are represented. In the current experiment, individuals with different types of explicit afterlife beliefs were asked in an implicit interview task