Children and adults from theus and China heard about people who died in two types of narrative contexts – medical and religious – and judged whether their psychological and biological capacities cease or persist after death. Most 5- to 6-year-olds reported that all capacities would cease. In theus, but not China, there was an increase in persistence judgments at 7–8 years, which decreased thereafter.uschildren’s persistence judgments were influenced by narrative context – occurring more often for religious narratives – and such (...) judgments were made especially for psychological capacities. When participants were simply asked what happens to people following death, in both countries there were age-graded increases in references to burial, religious ritual, and the supernatural. (shrink)
Missing from Bering's account of the evolutionary origins of existential reasoning is an explicit developmental framework, one that takes into account community input. If Bering's selectionist explanation was on target then one might predict a unique and relatively robust developmental trajectory, regardless of input. Evidence suggests instead that children's existential reasoning is contingent on their developing theory of mind.
Obligation as defined by Tomasello requires mutually capable parties, but one-sided caregiver relationships reveal its developmental and evolutionary precursors. Specifically, “coercive” emotions may prompt protective action by caregivers toward infant primates, and infants show distress toward caregivers when they appear to violate expectations in their relationships. We argue that these early social-relational expectations and emotions may form the base of obligation.