The project focuses on understanding of the processing of religious concepts. What is it about religious concepts that makes them so attractive, catchy and easy to memorize? Many religious beliefs share common features with minimally counterintuitive concepts, i.e., they violate one intuitive ontological expectation pertaining to the domain attributes of that concept. The project focuses in particular on minimally counterintuitive concepts and how their processing differs from processing of other non-counterintuitive concepts. The overall goal thus entails quest for memorability and transmission of religious and non-religious beliefs



Anthropological and experimental evidence has suggested that collective rituals may serve important social solidarity functions. In this project we concentrate on understanding the specific role that music and dance might play in generating such solidarity. In particular, we examine how music and dance might influence people’s sociality and if this in turn might help us to understand why music and dance takes the particular form it does. The long term aim of this project is to use both laboratory and field studies to examine different aspects of music and dance to understand what effect they have on people’s social perceptions and behaviour.

In collaboration with Joseph Bulbulia and Ronald Fischer



In this project we look to understand the religious belief and behaviour of individuals with ASD to help progress cognitive theories on religion as well as to learn more about the religious life of individuals with ASD.
Individuals with ASD have a unique way of thinking that could help reveal some of the underlying mechanisms that support religious belief. For example, ASD is characterised by difficulties in social cognition, in particular, theory of mind. To interact with religious entities (e.g. prayer) is thought to require everyday social cognition. How do individuals with ASD perceive religious entities and interact with them? ASD is also characterised by rigid and repetitive behaviour, similar to religious rituals. Are the similarities between ASD perseverative behaviour and ritual indicative of similar underlying cognitive systems? How do individuals with ASD perceive and conduct religious rituals? 

In collaboration with Penny Tok