Christopher M. Kavanagh

Christopher M. Kavanagh
University of Oxford | OX · Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA)

DPhil Anthropology

About

45
Publications
12,462
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452
Citations

Publications

Publications (45)
Article
Full-text available
Across three studies, we examined the role of shared negative experiences in the formation of strong social bonds-identity fusion-previously associated with individuals' willingness to self-sacrifice for the sake of their groups. Studies 1 and 2 were correlational studies conducted on two different populations. In Study 1, we found that the extent...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, theoretical and empirical work done under the rub-ric of the cognitive science of religion (CSR) have led many to conclude that religion (or, at least, some aspects thereof) is " natural ". By this, it is meant that human beings are predisposed to believe in supernatural agents, and that their beliefs about these agents are constra...
Article
Full-text available
Evolutionary models and empirical evidence suggest that outgroup threat is one of the strongest factors inducing group cohesion; however, little is known about the process of forming such cohesive groups. We investigated how outgroup threat galvanizes individuals to affiliate with others to form engaged units that are willing to act on behalf of th...
Article
Politics in the current era are replete with unreliable media stories which lack evidence, sometimes disparagingly dubbed ‘fake news’. A survey on a sample of Muslims in Indonesia (N = 518) in this work found that participants’ endorsement of collective action in of support issues with little to no empirical evidence (i.e., post-truth collective ac...
Article
Full-text available
Human rituals exhibit bewildering diversity, from the Mauritian Kavadi to Catholic communion. Is this diversity infinitely plastic or are there some general dimensions along which ritual features vary? We analyse two cross-cultural datasets: one drawn from the anthropological record and another novel contemporary dataset, to examine whether a consi...
Article
Full-text available
Although scientists agree that replications are critical to the debate on the validity of religious priming research, religious priming replications are scarce. This paper attempts to replicate and extend previously observed effects of religious priming on ethical behavior. We test the effect of religious instrumental music on individuals’ ethical...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
Full-text available
We present three datasets from a project about the relationship between death anxiety and religiosity. These include data from 1,838 individuals in the United States (n = 813), Brazil (n = 800), Russia (n = 800), the Philippines (n = 200), South Korea (n = 200), and Japan (n = 219). Measures were largely consistent across samples: they include meas...
Preprint
We present three datasets from a project about the relationship between death anxiety and religiosity. These include data from 1,838 individuals in the United States (n = 813), Brazil (n = 800), Russia (n = 800), the Philippines (n = 200), South Korea (n = 200), and Japan (n = 219). Measures were largely consistent across samples: they include meas...
Preprint
Full-text available
The popular image of Japan and religion is something of a paradox. On the one hand, large cross-cultural surveys frequently present Japan as a country of non-believers, where only 10-15% of the population self-identify as religious and the vast majority rank religion as being of little importance to their lives. Yet, any visitor to Japan is likely...
Preprint
Full-text available
Adopting newly proposed ‘open science’ reforms to improve transparency and increase rigour is hard and can make us, as researchers, feel vulnerable. Nonetheless, these reforms are vital to improving the overall quality and confidence of our collective research. We have, through our own experiences, found that preregistration and details analysis pl...
Preprint
Indonesia is the most populous Islamic country and as such is host to a diverse range of Islamic beliefs and practices. Here we examine how the diversity of beliefs and practices among Indonesian Muslims relates to group bonding and parochialism. In particular, we examine the predictive power of two distinct types of group alignment, group identifi...
Article
Full-text available
The present study aims to understand the roles of religious fundamentalism and collective narcissism in predicting extreme behavior. It was hypothesized that religious fundamentalism may enhance collective narcissism and that this would in turn increase the tendency to endorse extreme behavior. It was also anticipated that perceptions of social tig...
Article
The US Presidential Inauguration is a symbolic event which arouses significant emotional responses among diverse groups, and is of considerable significance to Americans’ personal and social identities. We argue that the inauguration qualifies as an Imagistic Ritual. Such ritual experiences are thought to produce identity fusion: a visceral sense o...
Article
Research into the mental processes that are involved with both the performance and the observance of rituals has a long history but it was not until the 1990s, with the resurgence of evolutionary and cognitive approaches to examining culture, that this developed into an active field of research. The distinctive feature of cognitive approaches to ex...
Article
Humans have created and maintained an exponentially large and sophisticated behavioral corpus over evolutionary time. In no small part this was achieved due to our tendency to imitate behaviours rather than to emulate outcomes. This tendency, however, can lead to inefficiency and redundancy in our behavioral repertoires. Drawing on evidence from mu...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Rituals that involve painful, frightening, or other unpleasant elements are found across across the world in a diverse range of contexts, from firewalking festivals to college hazings. This paper examines the psychological and social impact that such experiences have on individual participants and their relationships with the groups involved. We pr...
Article
Full-text available
Biologists and social scientists have long tried to understand why some societies have more fluid and open interpersonal relationships and how those differences influence culture. This study measures relational mobility, a socioecological variable quantifying voluntary (high relational mobility) vs. fixed (low relational mobility) interpersonal rel...
Article
Full-text available
A cross‐sectional study was conducted with 605 practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) to test hypothesis that high arousal rituals promote social cohesion, primarily through identity fusion. BJJ promotion rituals are rare, highly emotional ritual events that often feature gruelling belt whipping gauntlets. We used the variation in such experien...
Article
We question the privileged role of trance within the framework presented. The features that Singh suggests make it unique are not well demarcated from those of rituals more generally, and we challenge the depth of explanation presented for the mechanisms of trance. We outline the form of a solution, which may facilitate increased operational utilit...
Preprint
Humans have created and maintained an exponentially large and sophisticated behavioral corpus over evolutionary time. In no small part this was achieved due to our tendency to imitate behaviours rather than to emulate outcomes. This tendency, however, can lead to inefficiency and redundancy in our behavioral repertoires. Drawing on evidence from mu...
Article
In response to the recent publication of Theory In a Time of Excess this article offers an outsider perspective on the theoretical issues raised and why they are ultimately unlikely to be resolved. The article argues that there is a widespread problematic tendency to equate theory with a specific category of critical theory that tautologically rest...
Preprint
A cross-sectional study was conducted with 605 practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) to test hypothesis that high arousal rituals promote social cohesion, primarily through identity fusion bonds. BJJ promotion rituals are rare, highly emotional ritual events that often feature gruelling belt whipping gauntlets. We used the variation in such ex...
Article
Full-text available
Willingness to lay down one’s life for a group of non-kin, well documented historically and ethnographically, represents an evolutionary puzzle. Building on research in social psychology, we develop a mathematical model showing how conditioning cooperation on previous shared experience can allow individually costly pro-group behavior to evolve. The...
Data
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Projects

Project (1)
Project
The project aims to establish an authoritative scientific framework for understanding the relationship between group ritual, social cohesion, and pro-group behaviour. Rituals have shaped human societies for millennia, but the exact social consequences of rituals are poorly understood. The proposed research will identify the fundamental components of rituals worldwide and chart their effects on patterns of group alignment and action. The research programme will seek to achieve three tightly linked objectives. Objective 1 will examine psychological mechanisms underlying rituals’ effects on group cohesion and behaviour in ten nations. Objective 2 will focus on the ritual dynamics of special populations exposed to group-related violence (e.g., war veterans, ex-convicts, war-torn communities). Objective 3 will examine the functions of ritual and cohesion in cultural group selection.