The Development of Reasoning About Beliefs

Larisa Heipetz

Center for Childhood and Youth Speaker Series

Monday, November 26, 11 am  

Horace Mann Lab School, room 137

Presentation description: 

Beliefs - mental representations of particular propositions as true - are fundamental to social cognition. They provide information about ourselves and other people, help people imagine and predict what can be, and move individuals to take action. Religion constitutes a particularly important belief system for many individuals worldwide, yet religious beliefs remain under-studied in psychology. 

This talk examines two questions. First, how do children and adults reason about others' religious beliefs? Second, what are the consequences of such reasoning for intergroup cognition? Results demonstrate that children and adults distinguish religion from other types of beliefs and that even young children demonstrate social preferences on the basis of religious similarity. These findings show that religious cognition emerges early, that aspects of such cognition remain stable across development, and that invisible mental states can influence children's social preferences.

Larisa Heiphetz received her BA in psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Her research sits at the intersection of social, developmental, and cognitive psychology and examines the development of social cognition. Specifically, her research is centered around two main questions; 1. How do children and adults learn to reason about others' beliefs, especially their religious beliefs? 2. How does such reasoning influence intergroup attitudes? Her dissertation research suggests that religious cognition emerges early in life and that aspects of religious reasoning remain stable across development.

Monday, November 26, 2012, 11:00 AM
Horace Mann Lab School - Room 137

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