Do smart kids believe in Santa? The result of this study will astonish you!
Your kid is smart. But does he believe in Santa or other myths? The research by this child psychologist will surprise you!
Has it ever happened to you? You tell your kid a white lie, and he sees through it immediately. However, when it comes to Christmas, your kid believes that Santa exists? Well, it is quite a common phenomenon, and the reason is quite simple.
Before we discuss why kids end up believing in the make-believe world of Santa Claus, let us take a look at the research of Prof Jacqueline D. Woolley. Prof Woolley is a Professor and Department of Psychology Chair, University of Texas at Austin, USA. Prof Woolley specialises in children's understanding of reality. While it seems to be a simple enough topic, it is much deeper than you may imagine.
Children, according to Prof Woolley, are exposed to the world of fantasy very early in life. So it is fascinating to see how they end up understanding what is real and what is not. In order to research this, she set up an elaborate experiment with a popular subject: Santa.
Prof Woolley's findings
The result of the experiment are not just phenomenal, they also challenge the earlier hypotheses that children believe in anything they are told. A few scholars like Richard Dawkins have published essays to this effect, adding that this provides the children an evolutionary advantage. To summarise him, the children who listen to their parents blindly get hurt less. However, this is not true.
According to Prof Woolley, children understand reality in the same manner as adults do - by making use of evidence. Just like adults, they do three things:
- They note the circumstances in which they get the information.
- They tally the new information with the things they already know.
- Also, they judge the credibility of information based on the expertise of the endorser.
To set a context, if you are told that a new planet has been identified, an adult will believe it if he hears about it on a show on Discovery channel, with a footage captured from the International Space Station, shared by NASA. They would not believe it if a stranger gives this information in a barber shop.
Likewise, children are able to differentiate between possible, and impossible. For the remaining information that seems probable, they depend on an expert. So if it is a new planet, they would believe their Science teacher than their basketball coach, even though both are teachers at the same school.
Back to the myth of Santa Claus
So, if children are as smart as the study claims, why do they believe, at least to a certain age, that Santa is real? The answer is so simple that it will leave you speechless. They believe it because you, the parents, their most trusted source of information, go to lengths in keeping the myth alive!
They come across the legend of Santa Claus and his elves early on. The child gets a gift only if he is well behaved. And as an evidence, he has a gift when he wakes up. Also, the milk and the cookies he kept for Santa are gone. There are more than one pictures he has taken with the Santa at your local mall. all these things add up to the evidence that Santa is real.
To sum it up, it is because of you that your smart kid believes in the myth of Santa Claus. So is it unwise to continue keeping the myth alive? Would the child lose faith in you when it finds out?
Well, the answer is NO. Keeping the faith alive will actually help your kid live the experience. The very fact that good behaviour gets rewarded is valuable life lesson to begin with. But as your child grows up, his world view would broaden, and so would his experiences. He will then begin to question the facts in the story: how does a person visit each house in a night, or how does he visit your house when your house lacks a chimney.
He will outgrow the myth without feeling cheated, and would be ready to play a Santa for his children, when the time comes.
Source: Huffington Post