Children's and adults' understanding of illness: evidence in support of a coexistence model

Genet Soc Gen Psychol Monogr. 2002 Nov;128(4):325-55.


The authors investigated three seemingly contradictory views of the conception of illness: (a) the traditional, developmental "naive child" view; (b) a more contemporary, "sophisticated child" outlook; and (c) a largely social-psychological, "irrational adult" approach, They concluded that participants had a variety of views of the conception of illness and that they used different views in different experimental contexts. They found that, under certain conditions, children appeared to have sophisticated beliefs; under other conditions, children, and even adults, showed signs of folkloric and immanent justice reasoning. They also found that, with advancing grade level, children increasingly recognized psychological contributors to the cause of illness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Common Cold / psychology
  • Concept Formation*
  • Female
  • Folklore
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Justice