The development of children’s concepts of death

Sigal Ironi Hoffman, Sidney Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study had three purposes. The first was to construct a reliable test to assess children’s concepts of death. Such a test was devised and was found to be reliable. The second purpose was to assess the development of children’s understandings of subconcepts of the concept of death (cessation, necessity, irreversibility, causality, and university) for different content (humans and animals). The findings were: More younger than older children correctly judges tasks measuring these subconcepts, some of the subconcepts were more difficult than others, and there were no differences between children’s understanding of these subconcepts for humans and animals. The third purpose was to find two kinds of developmental sequences. The first was development between the subconcepts. Two sequences were predicted based on an analysis of prerequisite relations: One of these was found in part, and the other was within a subconcept. It was found that children believe that in death there is cessation of external events (moving, speaking) before internal events (thinking, dreaming).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-482
Number of pages14
JournalDeath Studies
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Oct 1985


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