Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.630148
Title: The development of children's understanding of death
Author: Hopkins, Michelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 2275
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
This study explored British primary school-aged children’s (N = 92) understanding of death as a biological event. By examining the impact of age, cognitive ability, religious beliefs, previous experience of death and/or serious illness, and socioeconomic status (SES) in one study, it was anticipated that a more detailed account of children’s developing death understanding would be revealed. Four groups of children (4-5 years, 6-7 years, 8-9 years, 10-11 years), were compared in relation to their acquisition of the five subcomponents of death, as assessed by the Death Interview (Slaughter & Griffiths, 2007). Consistent with a recent study (Panagiotaki, Nobes, Ashraf & Aubby, 2014), children aged 4-5 understood irreversibility first, and had started to grasp the ideas of applicability, cessation and inevitability. However, they had not yet developed what is considered to be a mature concept of death. Whereas the majority of 6-11 year olds understood the five subcomponents of death to varying degrees, with causality the last concept to be understood. Knowledge of irreversibility changed in 10-11 year olds indicating a more sophisticated understanding. Explanations for death not being final were justified with religious/spiritual beliefs in an afterlife, and offered a dualistic approach to reasoning (Astuti, 2007). Children with a lower than average academic ability experienced difficulties understanding the death concepts, compared with average and high average achieving children. These findings highlight that British children do develop their understanding of death at different rates according to their age and cognitive competence. More specifically, there was a marked change in children’s understanding of death between the ages of 4-5 and 6-11, particularly in 10-11 year olds with reference to the idea that death is irreversible. This provides preliminary support for children’s understanding of death developing according to a U-shaped curve rather than the staged model, as reported in previous literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.630148  DOI: Not available
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