The Evolution of Religion and Morality Project

A Special Issue of Religion, Brain & Behavior

Understanding the expansion of human sociality and cooperation beyond kith and kin remains an important evolutionary puzzle. Considerable evidence suggests that one such process involves certain components of religious systems that may have fostered the expansion of human cooperation in a variety of ways, including both certain forms of rituals and commitment to particular types of gods. Using an experimental economic game, our team specifically tested whether or not individually held mental models of moralistic, punishing, and knowledgeable gods curb biases in favor of the self and the local community, and increase impartiality toward geographically distant anonymous co-religionists. Our sample includes 591 participants from eight diverse societies – iTaukei (indigenous) Fijians who practice both Christianity and ancestor worship, the animist Hadza of Tanzania, Hindu Indo-Fijians, Hindu Mauritians, shamanist-Buddhist Tyvans of southern Siberia, traditional Inland and Christian Coastal Vanuatuans from Tanna, and Christian Brazilians from Pesqueiro. In this article, we present cross-cultural evidence that addresses this question and discuss the implications and limitations of our project. This volume also offers detailed, site-specific reports to provide further contextualization at the local level.

Religion, Brain & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2, May 2018 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Special Issue: The Evolution of Religion and Morality Project

This issue contains the following articles:

The evolution of religion and morality: a synthesis of ethnographic and experimental evidence from eight societies
Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Joseph Henrich, Coren Apicella, Quentin D. Atkinson, Adam Baimel, Emma Cohen, Rita Anne McNamara, Aiyana K. Willard, Dimitris Xygalatas & Ara Norenzayan
Pages: 101-132 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267027

High levels of rule-bending in a minimally religious and largely egalitarian forager population
Coren Lee Apicella
Pages: 133-148 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267034

Religion and expanding the cooperative sphere in Kastom and Christian villages on Tanna, Vanuatu
Quentin D. Atkinson
Pages: 149-167 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267028

Religiosity and resource allocation in Marajó, Brazil
Emma Cohen, Adam Baimel & Benjamin Grant Purzycki
Pages: 168-184 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267029

Jesus vs. the ancestors: how specific religious beliefs shape prosociality on Yasawa Island, Fiji
Rita Anne McNamara & Joseph Henrich
Pages: 185-204 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267030

Buddhism, identity, and class: fairness and favoritism in the Tyva Republic
Benjamin Grant Purzycki & Valeria Kulundary
Pages: 205-226 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267031

Religion and prosocial behavior among the Indo-Fijians
Aiyana K. Willard
Pages: 227-242 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267032

Big Gods in small places: the Random Allocation Game in Mauritius
Dimitris Xygalatas, Silvie Kotherová, Peter Maňo, Radek Kundt, Jakub Cigán, Eva Kundtová Klocová & Martin Lang
Pages: 243-261 | DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267033

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