Project to Explore Impact of Religion on Children’s World Views
Kathleen Corriveau will co-lead the implementation of the Developing Belief Network
A program co-led by BU Wheelock associate professor Kathleen Corriveau received funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The $10 million grant, to be disbursed by Templeton over five years, will fully implement the Developing Belief Network, which will consist of international researchers who will study how religion impacts children’s world views.
Corriveau, an associate professor of applied human development, will lead the grant with Rebekah Richert, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside. The project will examine the role of religion in children’s lives, how children form an understanding of the supernatural and coordinate that understanding with their science learning, as well as how children form ideas and stereotypes about people from their own and other religious groups, and how those stereotypes influence social interactions, such as whether to act selflessly toward others.
“There are so many domains of knowledge that children cannot learn through firsthand experience alone. One of them is the development of religious beliefs,” said Corriveau, who directs the Social Learning Lab at BU Wheelock. “Most studies exploring how these beliefs form have focused on families from Western cultures and who practice only a subset of the world’s religions. We hope this network will begin to capture cultural uniqueness and universals.”
The research network will address many questions about the diversity of child development around the world. Researchers will examine how children’s beliefs relate to their understanding of science and medicine and to their social interactions with others.
In the first phase of the study, proposals will be considered to form the network of between 12 and 24 research sites throughout the world. By the end of the fifth year, when the funding concludes, the researchers will have built a large dataset and video library and plan to have secured additional funding to sustain the research collaborative. The outcomes will be communicated to lay audiences, including through the web site, social media, and press overtures.
The John Templeton Foundation, founded in 1987, is a philanthropic organization that funds interdisciplinary research about human purpose. It awards about $70 million a year in research grants and programs.