The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Case for the Importance of Adolescence

Heiphetz, Larisa A.; Nakkawita, Emily

The cognitive science of religion proposes that religion and spirituality—including belief in God, conceptualizations of God’s mind, and reasoning about the religious beliefs of other people—are rooted in the same systems that underlie everyday cognitive processing. Because these systems change throughout development, the cognitive science of religion provides unique insight into how and why religious belief and reasoning develop. While a growing body of work has investigated these topics among children and adults, there are glaring gaps in the field’s understanding of adolescence. This article reviews what is known and unknown in this space. It also argues that applying the cognitive science of religion approach to adolescence would provide critical insight into the development of cognition in general and religious belief in particular.


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Adolescent Research Review

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August 11, 2021


Keywords: adolescence; cognitive science of religion; God concepts; religious development; social cognition; spiritual development