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An experimental examination of object-directed ritualized action in children across two cultures

An experimental examination of object-directed ritualized action in children across two cultures

Plos One 13(11): E0206884

Ritualized actions are common in daily life, and prevalent across cultures. Adults have been shown, under experimental conditions, to treat objects subjected to ritualized action as special and different relative to objects subjected to non-ritualized action. Similarly, children as young as 4, are sensitive to ritualized actions-frequently reproducing such actions at high fidelity. The current cross-cultural experiment attempts to extend existing findings among two culturally distinct groups of children with regard to object-directed rituals. We predicted that children's preference for a reward would be influenced by ritualized action (but not non-ritualized action). Over two trials we presented children in Australia (N = 93; mean age = 6.03 years, SD = 2.07 years) and Vanuatu (N = 109; mean age = 6.13 years, SD = 1.96 years) with two identical rewards, which was either subjected to ritualized action or non-ritualized action. Contrary to previous findings among adults, ritualized action did not influence children's preference for a reward. We frame the current results in the context of socially relevant group rituals, and discuss the implications for both wider theory and methods. We conclude with a call for pre-registered replications.

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Accession: 065690611

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PMID: 30485288

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206884

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