- 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
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.