The relationship between animism and anthropomorphic traits among four- and five- year-old children Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rx913t79b

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  • The purpose of this study was to extend Klingensmith' (1948) research, which investigated the child's meaning of "life," as well as the relationship between animism and anthropomorphism, by employing a younger group and analyzing for sex differences. The subjects were 36 Caucasian children, 18 boys and 18 girls, attending the Oregon State University laboratory nursery schools. Their ages ranged from 4 years 0 months to 5 years 5 months. The subjects' families were of the upper socioeconomic levels as determined by Hollingshead's (1957) "Two Factor Index of Social Position." The research instrument employed was Klingensmith's (1948) test of animism which centered around six common, inanimate objects, such as a clock, comb, and broken dish, and two animate ones, a fish and a flower, as the control objects. The children were asked ten questions concerning each of the objects. The first and last questions were, "Is alive?" Intervening between these questions were eight allied questions focusing on such sensory and functional (anthropomorphic) traits as seeing, feeling, knowing, and thinking. Question one was repeated as question ten to determine whether the intervening questions had an effect on the subjects' concepts of "alive." To compare this study with Klingensmith' (1948) the following were calculated: (1) total positive responses for each question for each object; (2) total positive responses for allied questions for the inanimate objects and the control objects; (3) mean number of positive responses to question one for four non-activity-evincing, inanimate objects and two activity-evincing, inanimate objects; and the corresponding means of the average number of positive responses to allied questions; and (5) t-scores for significant correspondence between questions one and ten. In addition to the data provided for comparison, four hypotheses were tested: Hypothesis I: More than 50% of the subjects will attribute life to two or more of the inanimate objects; Hypothesis II: When granting life to inanimate objects, over 50/0 of these subjects will not grant a majority of the anthropomorphic traits to the objects; Hypothesis III: There will be no significant correspondence between responses on question one and question ten; and. Hypothesis IV: There will be no significant differences between male and female responses. Testing of Hypotheses I and II consisted of calculating percentages based on the number of subjects and their responses. Chi square values were computed for testing Hypotheses III and IV. In addition, Fisher Exact Probabilities were computed for Hypothesis III. Results of the analyses indicated the trends found in Klingensmith's (1948) study were present in this investigation. Both studies found evidence of animism, but not a preponderance; therefore hypothesis I was rejected. Both studies found a decrease in the number who gave animistic responses to question ten as compared to question one. Low means of the number of positive responses to questions one and ten for the inanimate objects were evidenced, as were low means of the average number of positive responses to the allied questions. Hypothesis II was rejected as there were few subjects who attributed anthropomorphic traits after granting life to the inanimate objects. This trend was also evident in Klingensmith's (1948) study. Test results of Hypothesis III showed a close correspondence between responses on question one and those on question ten for all the objects, except the candle and comb. Testing Hypothesis. IV indicated there were no significant sex differences among the responses for all questions. However, more girls granted life to the inanimate objects on question one, but more boys responded positively to question ten. The latter was due to the fact that more girls who had answered positively to question one reversed their answers on question ten. In general, the results of this study produced the same trends as Klingensmith's (1948) study. In addition, there were no significant sex differences among the subjects' responses.
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