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Is the desire for immortality something we learn as we grow older and fear death, or a core, universal intuition that we develop early in life?
Given the diversity of cultural and religious teachings about what happens after people die, it can be hard to sift out what beliefs about the afterlife are learned and which, if any, are universal. What about before life begins, psychology researchers at Boston University wondered? Do human beings share common, universal beliefs about prelife—before conception?
To find out if people believe they existed before they were even conceived, the researchers studied two groups of children: an urban population from Connocoto, Ecuador, that was largely Catholic, and children from the Shuar village in Ecuador’s Amazon basin.