How do readers create representations of fictional worlds from texts? We hypothesize that readers use the real world as a starting point and investigate how much and which types of real-world information is imported into a given fictional world. We presented subjects with three stories and asked them to judge whether real world facts held true in the story world. Subjects' responses indicated that they imported many facts into fiction, though what exactly is imported depends on two main variables: the (...) distance that a narrative world lies from reality and the types of fact being imported. Facts that are true of the real world are more likely to be imported into worlds that are more similar to the real world, and facts that are more central to the representation of the real world are more likely to be imported overall. These results indicate that subjects make nuanced inferences when creating fictional worlds, basing their representations both on how different a story world is from the real world and on what they know to be causally central to the real world. (shrink)
Both adults and children have the ability to not only think about reality but also use their imaginations and create fictional worlds. This article describes the process by which world creation happens, drawing from philosophical and psychological treatments of this issue. First, world creators recognize the need to create a fictional world, as when starting a pretend game or opening a novel. Then, creators merge some real-world knowledge with the premises of the fictional world to construct a fuller representation, though (...) there is some controversy about how much of the real world is represented in any given fictional world. After the world is created, events can be set in motion within it. While it is generally accepted that this basic process is used for a wide variety of fictional worlds, including fictional stories, pretend games, and counterfactual scenarios, this process of world creation can vary over the course of development and depending on the use to which it is put. (shrink)
Over the last ten years or so, many cognitive scientists have begun to work on topics traditionally associated with philosophical aesthetics, such as issues about the objectivity of aesthetic judgments and the nature of aesthetic experience. An increasingly interdisciplinary turn within philosophy has started to take advantage of these connections, to the benefit of all. But one area that has been somewhat overlooked in this new dialogue is developmental psychology, which treats questions about whether and to what extent children's intuitions (...) about various aspects of aesthetic experience match those of adults, as well as the origins and developmental trajectories of these intuitions. The current paper reviews some recent work in developmental psychology that has the potential to inform philosophical research on a variety of topics – not necessarily because of this work tells us directly about what children think, but because learning what children's aesthetic intuitions are and how they develop can help us to better understand why adults have the intuitions that they do. (shrink)
Many people feel the pull of both creationism and evolution as explanations for the origin of species, despite the direct contradiction. Some respond by endorsing theistic evolution, integrating the scientific and religious explanations by positing that God initiated or guided the process of evolution. Others, however, simultaneously endorse both evolution and creationism despite the contradiction. Here, we illustrate this puzzling phenomenon with interviews with a diverse sample. This qualitative data reveals several approaches to coping with simultaneous inconsistent explanations. For example, (...) some people seem to manage this contradiction by separating out ideological claims, which prioritize identity expression, from fact claims, which prioritize truth. Fitting with this interpretation, ambivalent individuals tended to call explanations “beliefs”, avoid mention of truth or falsity, and ground one or both beliefs in identity and personal history. We conclude with a brief discussion of the affordances of this distinction. (shrink)
Prior work has found that Americans’ views on evolution are significantly and positively related to their understanding of this theory. However, whether this relationship is cross-culturally robust is unknown. This article extends earlier work by measuring and comparing the acceptance and understanding of evolution among highly educated individuals in China and the United States. We find a significantly higher evolution acceptance level in the Chinese sample than in the US sample, but no significant difference in their average levels of evolution (...) knowledge. Our analysis also shows that accepting evolutionary theory is related to understanding in both the US and the Chinese samples. These results provide evidence for the robustness of the relationship between understanding and acceptance of evolution across different cultural contexts. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to comprehensively test understanding of evolutionary theory within a Chinese sample and to compare these results with the US sample. (shrink)
Do victims’ emotions underlie preschoolers’ moral judgment abilities? Study 1 asked preschoolers (n = 72) to judge actions directed at characters who could and could not feel hurt and who did and did not cry. These judgments took into account only the nature of the action, not the nature of the victim. To further investigate how victims’ emotions might impact children’s moral judgments, Study 2 presented preschoolers (n = 37) with stories that varied in transgression type (Moral, Conventional, or None) (...) and victim’s reaction (Crying Present or Crying Absent). As in Study 1, children’s judgments were affected primarily by transgression type, and not by emotion. In an analogous task, judgments of children with autism spectrum disorders (Study 3; n = 12) were affected by both transgression type and crying. Typically developing children’s moral judgments are thus concerned primarily with action type, not with emotional displays, but the judgments of children with autism spectrum disorders can be swayed by victims’ emotions. (shrink)
The authors argue that children prefer fictions with imaginary worlds. But evidence from the developmental literature challenges this claim. Children's choices of stories and story events show that they often prefer realism. Further, work on the imagination's relation to counterfactual reasoning suggests that an attraction to unrealistic fiction would undermine the imagination's role in helping children understand reality.