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Understanding of illness by children from 3 to 11 years of age

  • THE KOREAN JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
  • 2004, 17(4), pp.121-144
  • Publisher : The Korean Society For Developmental Psychology
  • Research Area : Social Science > Psychological Science

Myung-Sook Chung 1

1꽃동네대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The present study was to investigate how children's understanding of illness causality changes with age. Three-, 5-, 7-, 9-, & 11-year-olds(16 at each age) were tested with a series of questions, which aimed at examining children's understanding of the causes of colds and stomachaches, the importance of physical fitness in susceptibility to illness, and the role of immanent justice in getting sick. The results showed that children's understanding about illness increased with age. Nevertheless, knowledge concerning stomachaches increased relatively slowly with age, whereas a belief in social causes expressed in the form of immanent justice changed rather dramatically with age into a belief in biological causes. The results also showed an increase with age in biological understanding of germs as causes of illness. Not many of 3- and 5-year-olds(<5%) explained illness in terms of germs as causes of illness, while 16% of 7-year-olds revealed understanding of germs as causes of illness and about 50% of 9- and 11-year-olds were quite capable of explaining the role of germs in getting sick. However, as opposed to Carey's claim that children before age 10 tend to interpret illness as a punishment for naughtiness, less than 30% of 3- and 5-year-olds considered immanent justice as a cause of getting ill.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.