New book on the evolution of religion and morality

This volume draws on a unique dataset to answer pressing questions about human religiosity. Building upon the first volume in this series, it presents results from the second phase of the Evolution of Religion and Morality project in a book format. This volume was edited by Martin Lang et al.

8 Jan 2024

Book cover of the Evolution of Religion and Morality II

This Routledge volume presents in a book format articles previously published by researchers in the Evolution of Religion and Morality project. The book investigates key questions in the evolutionary and cognitive sciences of religion and highlights cultural variability and context specificity of diverse religious systems. Chapters draw on a dataset comprising 2,228 participants from 15 ethnographically diverse societies that stretch from Africa and India through Oceania to South America, and include hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, horticulturalists, subsistence farmers and wage laborers. Four chapters using the full dataset answer the following questions:

  • What are the general predictors of commitment to supernatural agents?
  • Is there a gender gap in religiosity?
  • Does belief in punitive gods facilitates cooperation?
  • Are supernatural agents implicitly associated with moral concerns?

Chapters from individual field sites further explore the distinction between moralizing and local gods, the potentially disruptive role of belief in local gods on cooperation with anonymous co-religionists, and the relationship between belief in moralizing gods, cooperation, and differential access to material resources. Above these empirical studies, the book also includes an informed discussion with specialists on the challenges of running such a large cross-cultural project and gives concrete recommendations for future projects.

The book can be found under this link.

LEVYNA members contributed and co-authored following chapters:

1. Material insecurity predicts greater commitment to moralistic and less commitment to local deities: a cross-cultural investigation
Adam Baimel, Coren Apicella, Quentin Atkinson, Alex Bolyanatz, Emma Cohen, Carla Handley,
Joseph Henrich, Eva Kundtová Klocová, Martin Lang, Carolyn Lesogorol, Sarah Mathew, Rita McNamara, Cristina Moya, Ara Norenzayan, Caitlyn D. Placek, Monserrat Soler, Thomas Vardy, Jonathan Weigel, Aiyana Willard, Dimitris Xygalatas, and Benjamin Purzycki

2. The religiosity gender gap in 14 diverse societies
Tom Vardy, Cristina Moya, Caitlyn D. Placek, Coren L. Apicella, Alexander Bolyanatz, Emma Cohen, Carla Handley, Eva Kundtová Klocová, Carolyn Lesorogol, Sarah Mathew, Sarah A. McNamara, Benjamin G. Purzycki, Montserrat Soler, Jonathan L. Weigel, Aiyana K. Willard, Dimitris Xygalatas, Ara Norenzayan, Joseph Henrich, Martin Lang, and Quentin D. Atkinson

3. The moralization bias of gods’ minds: a cross-cultural test
Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Aiyana K. Willard, Eva Kundtová Klocová, Coren Apicella, Quentin Atkinson, Alexander Bolyanatz, Emma Cohen, Carla Handley, Joseph Henrich, Martin Lang, Carolyn Lesorogol, Sarah Mathew, Rita A. McNamara, Cristina Moya, Ara Norenzayan, Caitlyn Placek, Montserrat Soler, Tom Vardy, Jonathan Weigel, Dimitris Xygalatas, and Cody T. Ross

7. Cigarettes for the dead: effects of sorcery beliefs on parochial prosociality in Mauritius
E. Kundtová Klocová, M. Lang, P. Maňo, R. Kundt, and D. Xygalatas

8. Perceptions of moralizing agents and cooperative behavior in Northeastern Brazil
Montserrat Soler, Benjamin Grant Purzycki, and Martin Lang

11. The Evolution of Religion and Morality project: reflections and looking ahead
Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Martin Lang, Joseph Henrich, and Ara Norenzayan

17. Guiding the evolution of the evolutionary sciences of religion: a discussion
Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Martin Lang, Joseph Henrich, and Ara Norenzayan

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