In this monograph we (1) provide an account of young children's socialization with respect to death and (2) develop a conception of children’s understanding of death that encompasses affective and cognitive dimensions. Conducted in a small city in the Midwest, the project involved several component studies employing quantitative and qualitative methods. Middle-class, European American children (3-6 years, N = 101) were interviewed about their cognitive/affective understandings of death; their parents (N = 71) completed questionnaires about the children's experiences and their own beliefs and practices. Other data included ethnographic observations, interviews, focus groups, and analyses of children's books. Parents and teachers shared a dominant folk theory, believing that children should be shielded from death because they lack the emotional and cognitive capacity to understand or cope with death. Even the youngest children knew basic elements of the emotional script for death, a script that paralleled messages available across socializing contexts. Similarly, they showed considerable understanding of the subconcepts of death, providing additional evidence that young children's cognitive understanding is more advanced than previously thought, and contradicting the dominant folk theory held by most parents. Although children's default model of death was biological, many children and parents used coexistence models, mixing scientific and religious elements. A preliminary study of Mexican American families (children: N = 27, parents: N = 17) cast the foregoing fi ndings in relief, illustrating a different set of socializing beliefs and practices. Mexican American children’s understanding of death differed from their European American counterparts' in ways that mirrored these differences.
|Series:||Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development (MONO) Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Karl S. Rosengren is a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University. His research focuses on cognitive and motor development.
Peggy J. Miller is a Professor of Psychology and Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses onsocialization, specifically the process by which children come to orient themselves within systems of meaning. She is an expert on qualitative and ethnographic methods.
Isabel T. Gutierrez is a Lecturer in the Humanities, Social Sciences, & Education Department at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey. Her main interest is in socialization of meaning across cultures.
Phillip J. Chow is a clinical graduate student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His main research interests include the role of emotion and personality in depression.
Stevie S. Schein is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her main focus of interest is in social development.
Kathy N. Anderson was a research associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Maureen A. Callanan is Professor of Psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research takes a sociocultural developmental approach, focusing on cognitive and language development in young children. Much of her work investigates how children's causal understanding emerges in the context of family conversations and activities.
Table of Contents
ABSTRACT vii I. INTRODUCTION Peggy J. Miller, Karl S. Rosengren, and Isabel T.Gutiérrez 1 II. EUROPEAN AMERICANS IN CENTERVILLE: COMMUNITY AND FAMILYCONTEXTS Peggy J. Miller, Isabel T. Gutiérrez, Philip I. Chow, andStevie S. Schein 19 III. AFFECTIVE DIMENSIONS OF DEATH: CHILDREN’S BOOKS,QUESTIONS, AND UNDERSTANDINGS Isabel T. Gutiérrez, Peggy J. Miller, Karl S. Rosengren,and Stevie S. Schein 43 IV. COGNITIVE DIMENSIONS OF DEATH IN CONTEXT Karl S. Rosengren, Isabel T. Gutiérrez, and Stevie S.Schein 62 V. COGNITIVE MODELS OF DEATH Karl S. Rosengren, Isabel T. Gutiérrez, and Stevie S.Schein 83 VI. MEXICAN AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS IN THE CENTERVILLE REGION:TEACHERS, CHILDREN, AND PARENTS Isabel T. Gutiérrez, Karl S. Rosengren, and Peggy J.Miller 97 VII. FINAL THOUGHTS Peggy J. Miller and Karl S. Rosengren 113 REFERENCES 125 APPENDIX A 134 APPENDIX B 138 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 141