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A Cross-Cultural Developmental Analysis of Children's and Adults' Understanding of Illness in South Asia (India) and the United States

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Forty-one Indian and American preschoolers, 48 first graders, 41 third graders, 43 fifth graders, and 48 college students were presented with vignettes that described symptoms of illnesses. Participants in both countries were presented with a biological, moral, psychological, and irrelevant choice for each of the illnesses. Results indicated that across all ages in both countries, the biological model was the most prominent. However, with increasing age Indian participants acknowledged significantly more moral and psychological causes than Americans. Participants' justifications revealed that Americans made explicit reference to germs whereas Indians primarily referred to contamination. This indicates that although the cultural backdrops between the two sets of populations are very different, there is a complex interaction of similarities and differences.


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