New research says “Religious” children can’t distinguish reality from fiction. A study conducted by Kathleen H. Corriveau at Boston University has found that exposure to religion impacts a child’s ability to differentiate between fact and fiction.
The researchers presented three different stories to 5 and 6 year old volunteers; one religious, one fantastical and one realistic. The children were divided into 4 groups– church going children who went to public school, non-church going children who went to public schools, non-church going children who went to parochial schools and church going children that went to parochial schools.
That study found that children who attended religious services and or were enrolled in a parochial school had a harder time identifying which story was fiction and which story was fact. “The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but for fantastical stories.”
The most surprising finding was the discovery that a child’s upbringing influences how they judge main characters in fantastical stories. Secular children were more likely to identify the main characters as “make believe”, while “religious” children were more likely to believe they were real. “Even if children have no inclination to believe in divine or super human agency, religious instruction can readily lead them to do so”, says the study’s authors.
They continue– “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 casual relations.”
Many try to argue that having religious children makes them better adults; another study found that children who were raised religious were more punitive and more likely to bully than their secular counterparts.
Reference: Higher Perspective App