All human societies have been shaped by religion, leading psychologists to wonder how it arose, and whether particular forms of belief have affected other aspects of evolved social structure. According to one recent view, for example, belief in a “big God” — an all-powerful, punitive deity who sits in moral judgement on our actions — […]
In October of 2014, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies hosted an International Research Roundtable entitled “Prosociality in History and Historiography: Can Big Gods tip the Balance in World History?”. We now have the three-part keynote address available on our youtube channel, including segments by HECC directors Joseph Henrich and Edward Slingerland, and a […]
Today’s most popular religions all have one thing in common: a focus on morality. But the gods didn’t always care whether you are a bad person. Researchers have long puzzled over when and why religions moved away from a singular focus on ritual and began to encourage traits such as self-discipline, restraint, and asceticism. Now, […]
Norenzayan, Ara, Azim Shariff, Will Gervais, Aiyana Willard, Rita McNamara, Edward Slingerland, and Joseph Henrich. “The Cultural Evolution of Prosocial Religions,” Target Article: Behavioral and Brain Science, Forthcoming. Commentaries are being solicited.
As Vanier scholar, a Liu scholar and technical director of The University of British Columbia’s Database of Religious History, Brisbane, Australia’s Michael Muthukrishna is interested in applying cultural evolution research to public policy. His work explores how cultures emerge over time from the interactions of individuals, who are, in turn, shaped by the emerging cultures […]
The 2014–2015 James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowships have been awarded to Ara Norenzayan, Ione Fine, and Todd A. Kahan. Presented in partnership with APS, the Fellowships allow recipients to extend their sabbatical periods from one semester to a full year. Cattell, an important figure in American psychology, established the fund in 1942 by donating a […]
Prosociality in History and Historiography: Can Big Gods tip the Balance in World History? An International Research Roundtable awarded to Dr. Edward Slingerland and Dr. Brenton Sullivan, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC Recent scholarship in the cognitive science of religion, social psychology and anthropology has advanced the hypothesis that the development of […]