Rebekah A. Richert is an Associate Professor of Psychology, and director of the Childhood Cognition Lab, at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on the cultural and social-cognitive dimensions of children’s understandings of religion, fantasy, and media. Richert’s latest project, supported by the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer initiative, examines how prayer practices and instruction shape children’s concepts of God and supernatural causality. On a recent afternoon, I spoke with Richert about her current work and its implications.
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Steven Barrie-Anthony: Your research looks at how children develop their understandings of religion, fantasy, and media. Why religion and fantasy?
Rebekah Richert: There are parts of our psychological experience that are captured by our religious beliefs, by our imagination and creativity, our fantasy lives, that are rarely able to be tapped into when we look at other more basic types of psychological processes. I’m interested in trying to understand some of the bigger and more abstract types of thought processes that we develop. And a way of doing that is studying how we think about abstract meaning-laden systems like religion.