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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the nature and development of children's beliefs in fantastical beings and cultural myths. The discussion is organized into three sections. The first section addresses the characteristics of children that both lead them to believe in fantastical beings and contribute to eventual disbelief. The child's growing knowledge base, ability to detect inconsistencies, and use of evidence are discussed, along with individual differences in credulity and fantasy orientation. The second section focuses on characteristics of the fantastical beings themselves, such as emotional valence and familiarity. The third section addresses environmental factors, both proximal and distal. Discussion of proximal factors centers mainly on children's awareness and use of cues in the setting in which a fantastical entity is encountered. Discussion of distal factors focuses primarily on the role of parental encouragement. Directions for future research are offered throughout the chapter.

Keywords: belief, credulity, cultural myths, disbelief, fantastical beings, parental encouragement

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