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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Children doubt that magic can happen in everyday life, but they recognize that magic can take place in fairy stories. Indeed, when presented with a novel story, children use the presence or absence of magic in the story to assess its status. If the story includes no magic, children accept it as an historical narrative about real people, but if the story includes magic, children judge it to be a fairy story about fictional characters. Religious narratives straddle this simple dichotomy. Religious narratives include miraculous events but children do not treat them as fictional. An explanation is offered for this paradoxical combination; that is, children's skepticism about magic and their credulity toward miracles. The explanation of this paradox underlines an important theoretical point about the imagination: It is used to represent events regarded as true as well as those regarded as fictional.

Keywords: credulity, fairy stories, magic, miracles, skepticism

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