God's categories: The effect of religiosity on children's teleological and essentialist beliefs about categories

Gil Diesendruck, Lital Haber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Creationism implies that God imbued each category with a unique nature and purpose. These implications closely correspond to what some cognitive psychologists define as an essentialistic and teleological stance towards categories. This study assessed to what extent the belief in God as creator of categories is related to the mappings of these stances to categories in different domains. Israeli secular and orthodox Jewish 1st and 5th graders responded to questions assessing these three types of beliefs. The results revealed that secular children did not differ from orthodox children with respect to their essentialist beliefs about the stability of animal category membership, and their teleological construal of artifacts. In turn, secular children did differ from orthodox children with respect to their essentialist beliefs about the stability of social category membership, and their teleological construal of both animal and social categories. These findings intimate that while essentialist beliefs about animals, and teleological beliefs about artifacts do not require cultural input in order to emerge, essentialist beliefs about social categories, and teleological beliefs about both animal and social categories do.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
JournalCognition
Volume110
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Keywords

  • Categories
  • Culture
  • Development
  • Domains
  • Essentialism
  • Teleology

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