Beliefs in afterlife as a by-product of persistence judgments
George E. Newman a1, Sergey V. Blok a2andLance J. Rips a3 a1 Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520 [email protected] a2 Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 [email protected] a3 Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208. [email protected]
We agree that supernatural beliefs are pervasive. However, we propose a more general account rooted in how people trace ordinary objects over time. Tracking identity involves attending to the causal history of an object, a process that may implicate hidden mechanisms. We discuss experiments in which participants exhibit the same “supernatural” beliefs when reasoning about the fates of cups and automobiles as those exhibited by Bering's participants when reasoning about spirits.