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ERIC Number: EJ1051794
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Approaching an Understanding of Omniscience from the Preschool Years to Early Adulthood
Lane, Jonathan D.; Wellman, Henry M.; Evans, E. Margaret
Developmental Psychology, v50 n10 p2380-2392 Oct 2014
Individuals in many cultures believe in omniscient (all-knowing) beings, but everyday representations of omniscience have rarely been studied. To understand the nature of such representations requires knowing how they develop. Two studies examined the breadth of knowledge (i.e., types of knowledge) and depth of knowledge (i.e., amount of knowledge within domains) that preschoolers, elementary-school children, and adults (N = 180) attributed to an all-knowing being. Preschoolers often reported that an omniscient mind would lack many types of knowledge, and they completely failed to understand the depth of omniscient knowledge. With increasing age, children approached an understanding of omniscience--attributing broader and deeper knowledge to an omniscient agent--but only adults firmly understood the depth of omniscient knowledge. We identify socio-cultural and cognitive factors that correlate with children's understandings of omniscience. Findings demonstrate that childhood representations of fallible, limited, human minds both make possible and constrain developing representations of radically non-human minds.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Grant or Contract Numbers: 22149