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Representational coexistence in the God concept: Core knowledge intuitions of God as a person are not revised by Christian theology despite lifelong experience



Representational coexistence in the God concept: Core knowledge intuitions of God as a person are not revised by Christian theology despite lifelong experience



Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 25(6): 2330-2338



Previous research has shown that in the minds of young adult religious adherents, acquired theology about the extraordinary characteristics of God (e.g., omniscience) coexists with, rather than replaces, an initial concept of God formed by co-option of the person concept. We tested the hypothesis that representational coexistence holds even after extensive experience with Christian theology, as indexed by age. Christian religious adherents ranging in age from 18 to 87 years were asked to evaluate as true or false statements on which core knowledge intuitions about persons and Christian theology about God were consistent (both true or both false) or inconsistent (true on one and false on the other). Results showed, across adulthood, more theological errors in evaluating inconsistent versus consistent statements. Older adults also exhibited slower response times to inconsistent versus consistent statements. These findings show that despite extensive experience, indeed a lifetime of experience for some participants, the Christian theological God concept does not separate from the initial person concept from which it is formed. In fact, behavioral signatures of representational coexistence were not attenuated by experience. We discuss the broader implications of these findings to the acquisition of evolutionarily new concepts.

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Accession: 065476587

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 29372513

DOI: 10.3758/s13423-017-1421-6


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