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The Possible Downside of Too Much Religious Training

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:26:10 +0000

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- There are a lot of benefits to a religious upbringing, but one of the unintended consequences is that strong beliefs might make kids more gullible.

In a comparison between children who learn religious stories and those who don't, Boston University researchers say that youngsters who have a deep and abiding faith more often accept fiction as the literal truth.

The researchers made their finding by reading stories considered realistic, religious and fantastical to groups of 5- and 6-year-olds. When it came to non-fictional characters, both religious and secular children were able to correctly answer questions at the same rate.

However, the 79 percent of children who attended church or religious school identified religious characters as real compared to six percent of secular kids. In terms of characters described as magical, 41 percent of children exposed to religious teaching accepted them as real while only 13 percent with no religious teaching believed they existed.

Study author Kathleen Corriveau says religious teachings often require a suspension of disbelief, which is why the churchgoing children might apply these fictional events outside of their faith.

Nonetheless, Corriveau contends this is not necessarily a bad thing because it might make learning counterintuitive phenomena easier for them as well.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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