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Is God Just a Big Person?: The Influence of Religious Background on the Development of God Concepts

Nyhof, Melanie A. (2005) Is God Just a Big Person?: The Influence of Religious Background on the Development of God Concepts. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Developmental theories suggest that children initially conceptualize God in concrete, anthropomorphic terms. In contrast, recent research has found that from early on, children recognize God as a being radically different from humans. Previous research has been limited to studies of Christian children. The present study questioned children and adults raised in a religious tradition (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) emphasizing God's anthropomorphic qualities and a comparison group of traditional Christian children and adults, concerning abilities of God and dad. The results indicate that children distinguish between God and dad in terms of supernatural ability and that regardless of religious background, children acquire God concepts in a piece-meal fashion, not automatically inferring one supernatural attribute given another. In addition, theological differences in God concepts between the two religious traditions emerge late in development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Nyhof, Melanie A.men19@pitt.eduMEN19
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJohnson, Carl Njohnson@pitt.eduJOHNSON
Committee MemberBrownell, Celia A
Committee MemberStrauss, Mark S
Date: 3 February 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 July 2004
Approval Date: 3 February 2005
Submission Date: 10 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: children; cognitive development; God concepts; religion
Other ID:, etd-12102004-102702
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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