Article

A Cross-National Test of the Uncertainty Hypothesis of Religious Belief

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Abstract

According to the uncertainty hypothesis, religion helps people cope psychologically with dangerous or unpredictable situations. Conversely, with greater control over the external environment due to economic development and technological advances, religious belief is predicted to decline (the existential security hypothesis). The author predicts that religious belief would decline in economically developed countries where there is greater existential security, including income security (income equality and redistribution via welfare states) and improved health. These predictions are tested in regression analyses of 137 countries that partialed out the effects of Communism and Islamic religion both of which affect the incidence of reported nonbelief. Findings show that disbelief in God increased with economic development (measured by lower agricultural employment and third-level enrollment). Findings further show that disbelief also increased with income security (low Gini coefficient, high personal taxation tapping the welfare state) and with health security (low pathogen prevalence). Results show that religious belief declines as existential security increases, consistent with the uncertainty hypothesis.

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... Consider the unit gamma regression model presented in (1) and also the corresponding log-likelihood function given in Equation (2), where θ = (β , δ ) is the model k-dimensional parameter vector, β being a p-vector and δ being a q-vector such that p + q = k. In what follows, κ = (κ 1 , . . . ...
... We refer readers to such articles for details. When there are two competing models, say Model M 1 the two models are empirically indistinguishable) or reject both models. In the simulations, we shall consider two alternative fixed dispersion unit gamma regression models which are evaluated under two different scenarios. ...
... It is well established in the literature that per capita income positively influences the prevalence of religious disbelievers; see, e.g. [1,2]. That effect is only marginally statistically significant at the 5% significance level when the beta model is used, the evidence in favor of it being stronger in the unit gamma model. ...
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Regression analyses are commonly performed with doubly limited continuous dependent variables; for instance, when modeling the behavior of rates, proportions and income concentration indices. Several models are available in the literature for use with such variables, one of them being the unit gamma regression model. In all such models, parameter estimation is typically performed using the maximum likelihood method and testing inferences on the model's parameters are usually based on the likelihood ratio test. Such a test can, however, deliver quite imprecise inferences when the sample size is small. In this paper, we propose two modified likelihood ratio test statistics for use with the unit gamma regressions that deliver much more accurate inferences when the number of data points in small. Numerical (i.e. simulation) evidence is presented for both fixed dispersion and varying dispersion models, and also for tests that involve nonnested models. We also present and discuss two empirical applications.
... This explains that people still believe in, but do not feel like, belonging to specific identities of religion. Several theories and empirical studies have attempted to decode the linkage between income and religiosity, most of which argue that an increase in income is associated with reduced religiosity [3,4]. However, the discussion over this topic remains controversial, and effort must be made to clearly distinguish between religious individuals and religious countries, and between wealthy individuals and wealthy countries. ...
... Empirical research seems to be in support of the abovementioned argument about the negative effect of income on religiosity [3]. In a cross-country study, Herzer and Strulik [4] found that there is a causal relationship between income and religiosity, and that this relationship runs in both ways, where increasing income causes a decline in religiosity, and declining religiosity causes an increase in income. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several theories and empirical studies have established a negative association between income and religiosity, whereby increased income has been associated with decreased religiosity. The bulk of previous empirical studies which were based on data from the Pew Research Centre have been country-level analyses with only a few Muslim-majority countries included. This baseline study provides a preliminary examination of the relationship between income and religiosity at the individual level among Muslim populations. The study utilizes data collected using a self-administrated questionnaire distributed online in June 2020. The multivariate OLS regressions demonstrate that, at the individual level and among Muslims, the association between religiosity and income is not linear, but quadratic. An increase in income is associated with a decline in religiosity up to a turning point, where the increase in income is associated with increased religiosity, forming a U-shaped relationship.
... As noted above, non-affiliation is more normative in communist and post-communist nations (Fox and Tabory, 2008;Froese, 2004). Lack of religious belief and participation are not only socially acceptable but even state-sanctioned in many communist and formerly communist nations (Barber, 2011;Barro and McCleary, 2003). Unlike the predominant form of religious regulation, which favors one religion over others (Grim and Finke, 2006), communist states generally favor secularity. ...
... Consequently, differences in religiosity between the affiliated and unaffiliated are especially large in communist and formerly communist nations, which supports the seventh hypothesis. Similar to nations with large unaffiliated populations, the social acceptance of secularity in communist and formerly communist nations (Barber, 2011;Barro and McCleary, 2003) can provide a status shield (Hochschild, 1983) for those with more secular worldviews. In other words, it may be easier for the unaffiliated to be less religious both in communist/former communist nations and in nations with large numbers of religious nonaffiliates due to reduced pressure to be religious in those contexts. ...
Article
I argue that the social implications of religious non-affiliation vary across cultural contexts, leading to differences across nations in both who is likely to be unaffiliated and the religious consequences of such non-affiliation. I test these propositions by examining cross-national variation in associations with non-affiliation using multilevel models and cross-sectional survey data from almost 70,000 respondents in 52 nations. The results indicate that: 1) both individual characteristics (gender, age, and marital status) and nation-level attributes (GDP, communism, and regulation of religion) strongly predict religious non-affiliation; 2) differences in non-affiliation by individual-level attributes-women vs. men, old vs. young, and married vs. single-are greatest in nations with low levels of religious regulation and high levels of economic development; and 3) the effect of religious non-affiliation on religiosity varies considerably by the political and religious context, and to a lesser extent by the level of economic development in each nation. These results highlight cultural variation in what it means to be religiously unaffiliated.
... The joint characteristics allow opposing conclusions about the relationship between religions and CTs, depending on the focus of the argument. To the extent that conspiracy beliefs can satisfy needs that have traditionally been satisfied by religions (e.g., facing uncertainty, Barber, 2011;van Prooijen & bs_bs_banner Douglas, 2017), one would expect people to endorse either religious beliefs or conspiracy beliefs, resulting in a negative correlation. In contrast, if both reflect basal underlying cognitions (e.g., there are hidden powers; there is more in the world than is visible) or other shared ideologies, then the same individuals should be prone to endorse both beliefs, resulting in a positive correlation. ...
... The epistemic function is another shared feature of both concepts by presenting stories about causal relationships (Wood & Douglas, 2018) as cross-cultural phenomena to reduce uncertainty (Barber, 2011;van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017). Sense-making processes and the detection of patterns and agencies have been linked to (predominantly Christian) religiosity (van Elk et al., 2016;Inzlicht et al., 2011) and the endorsement of CTs (Douglas et al., 2016;Marchlewska et al., 2018;van Prooijen et al., 2018), partly depending on contexts like experiencing uncertainty or lacking control (Andersen, 2019;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
Religious and conspiracy beliefs share the feature of assuming powerful forces that determine the fate of the world. Correspondingly, they have been theorized to address similar psychological needs and to be based on similar cognitions, but there exist little authoritative answers about their relationship. We delineate two theory‐driven possibilities. If conspiracy theories and religions serve as surrogates for each other by fulfilling similar needs, the two beliefs should be negatively correlated. If conspiracy and religious beliefs stem from the same values and cognitions, this would speak for a positive correlation that might be diminished—for example—by controlling for shared political ideologies. We approached the question with a meta‐analysis (N = 10,242), partial correlations from large Christian‐dominated datasets from Germany, Poland, and the United States (N = 12,612), and a preregistered U.S. study (N = 500). The results indicate that the correlations between religiosity and conspiracy theory endorsement were positive, and political orientation shared large parts of this covariance. Correlations of religiosity with the more need‐related conspiracy mentality differed between countries. We conclude that similarities in the explanatory style and ideologies seem to be central for the relation between intrinsic religiosity and endorsing conspiracy theories, but psychological needs only play a minor role.
... However, the opposite was found, such that more religious countries showed lower mean levels of life satisfaction than less religious countries. One possible explanation for this finding is that some less religious countries tend to offer residents greater healthcare access, greater access to education, more economic development, and better quality of life overall (Barber, 2011;Snoep, 2007). By contrast, among more religious countries, individuals generally experience poorer quality of life. ...
... By contrast, among more religious countries, individuals generally experience poorer quality of life. Researchers have speculated that the function of religion within developing countries is to assist inhabitants in dealing with everyday stressors, living conditions, and to cope with the uncertainty of everyday life (e.g., Barber, 2011). Consistent with the "uncertainty hypothesis," Barber (2011) demonstrated that higher levels of health and economic development predicted disbelief in religion at the country level. ...
Article
The current study extends findings from previous literature examining the moderating effect of religious beliefs on the relationship between negative life circumstances and life satisfaction. Specifically, the current study investigates the moderating effect of religious belief on the relationship between income and life satisfaction at the individual and country level using multilevel modeling procedures. It was hypothesized that there would be a positive effect of income on life satisfaction at both the individual and country level, but as levels of religious belief increased (at the individual and country level), these relationships would be attenuated. A group of 85,072 individuals nested within 59 countries (43,541 females, 41,443 males, 88 unknown) between the ages of 16 and 99 (Mage = 41.63, SD = 16.56) completed the World Values Survey including questions reflecting income, religious belief, and life satisfaction. Results showed positive main effects of individual-level income and religious belief on life satisfaction. Contrary to prediction, there was a negative main effect of country-level religious belief on life satisfaction, and no main effect of country-level income on life satisfaction. Religious belief did not moderate the relationship between income and life satisfaction at the individual or country level. Theoretical explanations and implications are discussed.
... These findings have been mirrored in recent studies examining variation in belief in God. Barber (2011) analyzed data from 137 countries and found that belief in God was higher in countries with lower economic development, income security, and health security. In four studies, Kay et al. (2010) found that people were more likely to believe in God during periods of perceived government instability, such as election periods. ...
... Consistent with the uncertainty hypothesis, it may be that when people are in a context where access to healthcare, education, and income is uncertain, they may be more likely to believe in luck and precognition to restore a sense of security and control. A similar point has been made by Barber (2011), who found an association between economic development and belief in God. A second possibility is that HDI is related to modernization and a stricter focus on science and technology. ...
Article
Although magical beliefs (such as belief in luck and precognition) are presumably universal, the extent to which such beliefs are embraced likely varies across cultures. We assessed the effect of culture on luck and precognition beliefs in two large-scale multinational studies (Study 1: k = 16, N = 17,664; Study 2: k = 25, N = 4,024). Over and above the effects of demographic factors, culture was a significant predictor of luck and precognition beliefs in both studies. Indeed, when culture was added to demographic models, the variance accounted for in luck and precognition beliefs approximately doubled. Belief in luck and precognition was highest in Latvia and Russia (Study 1) and South Asia (Study 2), and lowest in Protestant Europe (Studies 1 and 2). Thus, beyond the effects of age, gender, education, and religiosity, culture is a significant factor in explaining variance in people’s belief in luck and precognition. Follow-up analyses found a relatively consistent effect of socio-economic development, such that belief in luck and precognition were more prevalent in countries with lower scores on the Human Development Index. There was also some evidence that these beliefs were stronger in more collectivist cultures, but this effect was inconsistent. We discuss the possibility that there are culturally specific historical factors that contribute to relative openness to such beliefs in Russia, Latvia, and South Asia.
... The joint characteristics allow opposing conclusions about the relationship between religions and CTs, depending on the focus of the argument. To the extent that conspiracy beliefs can satisfy needs that have traditionally been satisfied by religions (e.g., facing uncertainty, Barber, 2011;van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017), one would expect people to endorse either religious beliefs or conspiracy beliefs, resulting in a negative correlation. In contrast, if both reflect basal underlying cognitions (e.g., there are hidden powers; there is more in the world than is visible) or other shared ideologies, then the same individuals should be prone to endorse both beliefs, resulting in a positive correlation. ...
... The epistemic function is another shared feature of both concepts by presenting stories about causal relationships (Wood & Douglas, 2018) as cross-cultural phenomena to reduce uncertainty (Barber, 2011;van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017). Sense-making processes and the detection of patterns and agencies have been linked to (predominantly Christian) religiosity (Inzlicht et al., 2011;van Elk et al., 2016) and the endorsement of CTs (Douglas et al., 2016;Marchlewska et al., 2018;van Prooijen et al., 2018), partly depending on contexts like experiencing uncertainty or lacking control (Andersen, 2019;Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Religious and conspiracy beliefs share the feature of assuming powerful forces that determine the fate of the world. Correspondingly, they have been theorized to address similar psychological needs and be based on similar cognitions, but there exist little authoritative answers about their relationship. We delineate two theory-driven possibilities. If conspiracy theories and religions serve as surrogates for each other by fulfilling similar needs, the two beliefs should be negatively correlated. If conspiracy and religious beliefs stem from the same values and cognitions, this would speak for a positive correlation that might be diminished—for example—by controlling for shared political ideologies. We approached the question with a meta-analysis (N = 10,242), partial correlations from large Christian-dominated datasets from Germany, Poland, and the USA (N = 12,612), and a preregistered US-study (N = 500). The results indicate that the correlations between religiosity and conspiracy theory endorsement were positive and political orientation shared large parts of this covariance. Correlations of religiosity with the more need-related conspiracy mentality differed between countries. We conclude that similarities in the explanatory style and ideologies seem to be central for the relation between intrinsic religiosity and endorsing conspiracy theories, but psychological needs only play a minor role.
... Finally, insecurity theory (Norris and Inglehart, 2004), rooted in sociology, maintains that individuals turn to religion when beset by insecurities because religion offers them emotional benefits in dealing with these insecurities (in psychology, this is sometimes referred to as the uncertainty hypothesis; Barber, 2011). Aiming to explain cross-national variations in the level of religiosity, this theory mainly considers objective chronic insecurities in external life circumstances (e.g. ...
... In their influential volume on religion and politics, Norris and Inglehart (2004) observed strong correlations of religious practice with indicators of insecurity, such as the Human Development Index and income inequality, in the World Values Survey. Extending these findings, Barber (2011) showed with data from 137 countries that disbelief in God was higher in more economically developed countries (i.e. lower percentage of the workforce employed in agriculture, higher percentage of young people enrolled in tertiary education) and in countries offering higher income security (i.e. ...
Chapter
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The rapid and profound change that today’s societies are undergoing confronts many young people with new biographical uncertainties that create a considerable psychological burden and can jeopardize successful development. In this chapter, we ask what role religiosity may play in dealing with such biographical uncertainties. Linking recent theorizing on social change and on religiosity, we propose that people often turn to religion in times of heightened uncertainty. This is because religiosity can reduce uncertainties and buffer their negative psychosocial consequences. We discuss nascent evidence from diverse strands of research that support these ideas, covering experimental laboratory studies and cross-national surveys. Although this evidence suggests that religiosity contributes to positive development vis-à-vis biographical uncertainties, we also review evidence indicating that these psychological benefits of religiosity come at a cost, from higher closed-mindedness to religious fundamentalism. Finally, we identify questions that warrant further research and discuss implications of this burgeoning research area for a public policy aimed at promoting positive development.
... Welfare state programs provide social security in all fronts, including healthcare. Therefore, consistent with the argument of the existential security theory, researchers have drawn a connecting line between healthcare-related welfare programs and the decline of religiosity (Barber 2011;Zuckerman 2007Zuckerman , 2008Paul 2005Paul , 2009). One can argue that a lack of access to healthcare threatens individuals' existential security. ...
Article
Drawing on data from the World Values Survey (1995–2014), and using a multilevel modeling technique, this article explores the relationship between social inequalities and religiosity for a sample of 223,016 respondents nested in 85 countries. Mixed-effects regression models find that income inequality is a stronger determinant of individuals’ religiosity in developing (lower middle-income) countries compared to developed (higher middle-income and high-income) nations. Alternatively, healthcare inequality, operationalized as the out-of-pocket share of a country’s total health-related expenditures, is a stronger predictor of individual-level religiosity in high-income countries, relative to both upper and lower middle-income nations. These findings broaden our understanding of the global religious dynamics through discovering a cross-national heterogeneity in paths through which the process of secularization works in developed and developing nations.
... To begin with, there is firm evidence that religiosity is higher in economically less developed countries (Barro & McCleary, 2003;Oishi & Diener, 2014). Compared to secular countries, religious countries possess a lower gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (Rees, 2009), more income inequality (Gini coefficient; Barber, 2011), a larger proportion of agricultural employment (Barber, 2013), less tertiary education (i.e., viewer postsecondary programs; Barber, 2013), and lower scores on the Human Development Index (HDI; Gaskins, Golder, & Siegel, 2013). These associations are consistent with secularization theory, according to which, the upsurge of scientific knowledge (e.g., higher education) causes declines in religiosity, because religious explanations of how the "world works" are increasingly perceived as unlikely. ...
Article
Countries differ in their religiosity and these differences have been found to moderate numerous psychological effects. The burgeoning research in this area creates a demand for a country-level religiosity index that is comparable across a large number of countries. Here, we offer such an index, which covers 166 countries and rests on representative data from 1,619,300 participants of the Gallup World Poll. Moreover, we validate the novel index, use it to examine temporal change in worldwide religiosity over the last decade, and present a comprehensive analysis of country-level religiosity’s nomological network. The main results are as follows. First, the index was found to be a valid index of global religiosity. Second, country-level religiosity modestly increased between 2006 and 2011 and modestly decreased between 2011 and 2017 – demonstrating a curvilinear pattern. Finally, nomological network analysis revealed three things: it buttressed past evidence that religious countries are economically less developed; it clarified inconsistencies in the literature on the health status of inhabitants from religious countries, suggesting that their psychological and physical health tends to be particularly good once economic development is accounted for; and finally, it shed initial light on the associations between country-level religiosity and various psychological dimensions of culture (i.e., Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and country-level Big Five traits). These associations revealed that religious countries are primarily characterized by high levels of communion (i.e., collectivism and agreeableness). We are optimistic that the newly presented country-level religiosity index can satisfy the fast-growing demand for an accurate and comprehensive global religiosity index.
... The theory also helps explain why modern societies differ so much in their religiosity. Cross-national studies show that people are more religious in countries with greater economic insecurity (Barber 2011, Storm 2017) and violence (Paul 2005, Carreras andVerghese 2018). ...
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This talk points out the importance of personal dominance hierarchies for human societies in questions that have escaped the attention of most scholars. After literature reviews it makes numerous suggestions for specific research projects. The presentation first looks at the confounding of what “is” with what “ought to be,” and explains the evolutionary origins of this confusion, drawing attention to the role of hierarchies in the evolution of our moral sense. It then turns to the role of personal hierarchies in explaining common characteristics of leaders, cultural variations in despotic rule, and the “whys” of leadership inheritance. Next examined are the social and psychologcial factors that generate “unstable hierarchies” and the importance of this instability in generating violence. The relevance of personal hierarchies for explaining sexual mating preferences, cultural variations in the frequency of rape, and homosexuality form the next topic. Finally, the role of power relationships within a society are related to specific religious beliefs.
... Esta teoria também ajuda a explicar porque sociedades modernas diferem tanto na sua religiosidade. Pesquisas têm mostrado que países com mais insegurança econômica (Barber 2011;Storm 2017), e mais violência (Paul 2005; Carreras e Verghese 2018) têm populações mais religiosas. Eis alguns gráficos de dispersão do estudo de Rees (2009) e de Paul (2005) comparando diferentes países: ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This talk points out the importance of personal dominance hierarchies for human societies in questions that have escaped the attention of most scholars. After literature reviews it makes numerous suggestions for specific research projects. The presentation first looks at the confounding of what “is” with what “ought to be,” and explains the evolutionary origins of this confusion, drawing attention to the role of hierarchies in the evolution of our moral sense. It then turns to the role of personal hierarchies in explaining common characteristics of leaders, cultural variations in despotic rule, and the “whys” of leadership inheritance. Next examined are the social and psychologcial factors that generate “unstable hierarchies” and the importance of this instability in generating violence. The relevance of personal hierarchies for explaining sexual mating preferences, cultural variations in the frequency of rape, and homosexuality form the next topic. Finally, the role of power relationships within a society are related to specific religious beliefs.
... In our study, the correlation between feeling of control and belief in a controlling God was only found in the US and not in the Netherlands. This cross-national difference may be related to country-level differences in the cultural prevalence of religiosity and existential security (Barber, 2011). Religion is deeply rooted in US cultural identity; Christianity presently continues to shape American lives and guide politics (Wald & Calhoun-Brown, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Compensatory Control Theory (CCT) suggests that religious belief systems provide an external source of control that can substitute a perceived lack of personal control. In a seminal paper, it was experimentally demonstrated that a threat to personal control increases endorsement of the existence of a controlling God. In the current registered report, we conducted a high-powered (N = 829) direct replication of this effect, using samples from the Netherlands and the United States (US). Our results show moderate to strong evidence for the absence of an experimental effect across both countries: belief in a controlling God did not increase after a threat compared to an affirmation of personal control. In a complementary preregistered analysis, an inverse relation between general feelings of personal control and belief in a controlling God was found in the US, but not in the Netherlands. We discuss potential reasons for the replication failure of the experimental effect and cultural mechanisms explaining the cross-country difference in the correlational effect. Together, our findings suggest that experimental manipulations of control may be ineffective in shifting belief in God, but that individual differences in the experience of control may be related to religious beliefs in a way that is consistent with CCT.
... To begin with, there is firm evidence that religiosity is higher in economically less developed countries (Barro & McCleary, 2003;Oishi & Diener, 2014). Compared to secular countries, religious countries possess a lower gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (Rees, 2009), more income inequality (Gini coefficient; Barber, 2011), a larger proportion of agricultural employment (Barber, 2013), less tertiary education (i.e., viewer postsecondary programs; Barber, 2013), and lower scores on the Human Development Index (HDI; Gaskins, Golder, & Siegel, 2013). These associations are consistent with secularization theory, according to which, the upsurge of scientific knowledge (e.g., higher education) causes declines in religiosity, because religious explanations of how the "world works" are increasingly perceived as unlikely. ...
Article
Full-text available
Countries differ in their religiosity and these differences have been found to moderate numerous psychological effects. The burgeoning research in this area creates a demand for a country-level religiosity index that is comparable across a large number of countries. Here, we offer such an index, which covers 166 countries and rests on representative data from 1,619,300 participants of the Gallup World Poll. Moreover, we validate the novel index, use it to examine temporal change in worldwide religiosity over the last decade, and present a comprehensive analysis of country-level religiosity’s nomological network. The main results are as follows. First, the index was found to be a valid index of global religiosity. Second, country-level religiosity modestly increased between 2006 and 2011 and modestly decreased between 2011 and 2017 – demonstrating a curvilinear pattern. Finally, nomological network analysis revealed three things: it buttressed past evidence that religious countries are economically less developed; it clarified inconsistencies in the literature on the health status of inhabitants from religious countries, suggesting that their psychological and physical health tends to be particularly good once economic development is accounted for; and finally, it shed initial light on the associations between country-level religiosity and various psychological dimensions of culture (i.e., Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and country-level Big Five traits). These associations revealed that religious countries are primarily characterized by high levels of communion (i.e., collectivism and agreeableness). We are optimistic that the newly presented country-level religiosity index can satisfy the fast-growing demand for an accurate and comprehensive global religiosity index.
... Moreover, we take into account the importance of religion and income at an individual level in our analysis. As veiling is understood to be an indicator of religiosity, we predict religion and veiling will be positively correlated, and this will be moderated by income as religious belief declines in economically developed countries as income security improves (Barber, 2011). ...
Article
Veiling is an ancient cultural practice endorsed by religion, social institutions, and laws. Recently, there have been adaptive arguments to explain its function and existence. Specifically, it is argued that veiling women is a form of male mate guarding strategy, which aims to increase sexual fidelity by decreasing overt displays of his mate's physical attractiveness, thereby helping to secure his reproductive success. Furthermore, it is suggested that such mate retention strategies (veiling) should be more important when child survival is more precarious, as cues to sexual fidelity support higher paternal investment. Using publicly available data from the PEW Research Center encompassing 26,282 individuals from 25 countries, we tested the hypotheses that men should be more supportive of women's veiling and this support should be more important in harsher environments, particularly those with poor health and high mortality rates, where paternal care is presumably more important. Our results show that men were more supportive of veiling than women, and this support increased as the environments became harsher. Overall, these findings support the male mate retention argument as well as the idea that the practice of veiling is sensitive to environmental differences.
... In support of this possibility, various studies have found higher religiosity in either earthquake-prone or drought-affected regions, or associated with more risk-filled subsistence practices (Bentzen 2015;Gibson and Connell 2015;Poggie et al. 1976;Shannonhouse et al. 2019;Sibley and Bulbulia 2012). Moreover, Barber (2011Barber ( , 2013Barber ( , 2015 found that increased material security was linked to country-level and state-level declines in religiosity. ...
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Purpose: In this paper we examine and test alternative models for explaining the relationships between resource stress, beliefs that gods and spirits influence weather (to help or harm food supply or punish for norm violations), and customary beyond-household sharing behavior. Our model, the resource stress model, suggests that resource stress affects both sharing as well as conceptions of gods’ involvement with weather, but these supernatural beliefs play no role in explaining sharing. An alternative model, the moralizing high god model, suggests that the relationship between resource stress and sharing is at least partially mediated by religious beliefs in moralizing high gods. Methods: We compared the models using a worldwide sample of 96 cultures from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS), newly coded data on supernatural involvement with weather, and previously coded data on food and labor sharing. We conducted three types of analysis: multilevel and society-level regressions, and mediational path modeling using Monte Carlo simulations. Results: Resource stress shows a robust effect on beliefs that high gods are associated with weather (either helping or hurting food supply), that superior gods help the food supply through weather, and that minor spirits hurt the food supply through weather. Resource stress also predicts greater belief in moralizing high gods. However, no form of high god belief that we test significantly predicts more sharing. Mediational models suggest the religious beliefs do not significantly explain why resource stress is associated with food and labor sharing. Conclusion: Our findings generally accord with the view that resource stress changes religious belief and has a direct effect on sharing behavior unmediated by high god beliefs.
... A potential pedagogical rationale (see Lawson and Worsnop 1992) is that when instructors show students scientific data-and if the students use sound scientific reasoning-the logical conclusion would be to reject non-scientific views (e.g., special creation, young earth) in favor of evolutionary theory. This approach is in line with recent research suggesting that the rise in scientific understanding and scientific education has caused a decline in religiosity in the developed world (Barber 2011;Stavrova et al. 2016). However, given the results of the current study, this approach (i.e., appealing to scientific evidence) may do little to sway religious student acceptance of evolution. ...
Article
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Background Acceptance of evolutionary theory varies widely and is often associated with religious background. Some have suggested there exists an additional relationship between scientific reasoning ability and the acceptance of evolutionary theory. In this study, we used structural equation modeling to test whether scientific reasoning ability predicts religiosity, acceptance of creationist views, or acceptance of evolution. We administered internet-based surveys to 724 individuals nationwide who self-describe as being religious and built a structural-equation model to test predictive abilities. Results We found that while religiosity positively predicts the acceptance of creationist views and negatively predicts the acceptance of evolution, scientific reasoning ability does not predict religiosity, acceptance of creationist views, or acceptance of evolutionary theory. Conclusions With a lack of any relationship between scientific reasoning ability and acceptance, an approach to evolution education that focuses on appealing to scientific reasoning may prove fruitless in changing student attitudes toward evolution; alternative teaching approaches regarding evolution are warranted.
... In their empirical study, the relation between secular values and life satisfaction was moderated by a country's human development index (HDI), with a positive relation between secular values and life satisfaction that was found only in high-HDI countries. Drawing on the existential security framework (ESF) by Barber (2011) and Norris and Inglehart (2011) which states that the need for religion declines with economic development, income security, and improved health, Li and Bond (2010) argue that their results indicate a better "cultural fit" between secular individuals and high-HDI countries that promotes well-being. ...
Article
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Previous research has frequently found a positive relation between religiosity compared to non-religiosity and psychological well-being. Recent studies have demonstrated differences between types of non-religious individuals and the relevance of a fit between individual (non-)religiosity and characteristics of the country a person is living in. This study combined the previous (partially) competing lines of research for the first time and examined the connection between self-identifying as specifically atheist, non-religious without further distinction, weakly religious, or highly religious and life satisfaction. World Values Survey data of 24 countries worldwide that vary in their social norms of religiosity and societal levels of development were used for a quantitative intercultural comparison (N = 33,879). In contrast to most previous research, a multilevel regression analysis showed no differences between highly religious, indistinct non-religious, and atheist individuals’ level of life satisfaction when the fit between individual (non-)religiosity and country characteristics was included. Weakly religious individuals though were significantly less satisfied with life than highly religious individuals. Thus, our results indicate that only in religious societies, identifying as non-religious/atheist is related to lower life satisfaction. When controlling for the context, a curvilinear relation between (non-)religiosity and life satisfaction emerged. Additionally, atheists differed in their sensitivity towards the social norm of religiosity from indistinct non-religious individuals—their well-being varied dependent on living in a country with many other secular individuals or not. These results demonstrate differences between subgroups of (non-)religious individuals and they call into question a general benefit of religiosity for subjective well-being independent of societal context.
... Even though participation in religious services and belief in God overall have been on the decline in the last decades in most economically developed countries, religious beliefs are still rather strong in developing countries. Atheists are mainly concentrated in developed countries governed by democracies, while in sub-Saharan Africa atheism is almost nonexistent (Barber, 2011), with less than 1% of the population disavowing religious sentiment and categorizing themselves as atheists. Atheism is mostly concentrated in developed countries of Europe with Sweden having the most atheists. ...
... Public education is both an indicator of modernity and an important element in the process of secularization (Barber 2011;Ruiter and Frank 2009). Higher average levels of education are associated with greater societal acceptance of secularism (Norris and Inglehart 2004). ...
Article
In this case study of Germany, we use repeated cross-sectional surveys to analyze the temporal structure, gender gap, and educational gradient of the unaffiliated in the post-war period in the West. The continuing institutional role for religion in the West and the rapid de-institutionalization and subsequent re-institutionalization of religion in the East informs the comparison of the unaffiliated in East and West since unification. Stronger age effects in the East, persistent period effects in the West, and cohort effects combine with a stronger educational gradient and larger gender gap in the West to define the contrasting features of the changes in religious affiliation.
... Die existential security thesis wurde mittlerweile in einer Reihe von ländervergleichenden Studien überprüft und anhand verschiedener Indikatoren bestätigt. Je niedriger die Rate der absoluten Armut, die Kindersterblichkeit, die Prävalenz von Infektionskrankheiten, die Gewaltkriminalität, die Korruption, und je höher die Wohlfahrtsausgaben eines Landes, desto niedriger ist das Niveau der Religiosität (Gill und Lundsgaarde 2004;Rees 2009;Barber 2011;Ruiter und Tubergen 2009). Norris und Inglehart gehen davon aus, dass ihre These nicht nur auf der Makroebene des Ländervergleichs, sondern auch auf individueller Ebene gilt. ...
Chapter
Zentrale Merkmale des kleinbürgerlichen Habitus sind auf die Aufstiegsorientierung bzw. Abstiegsängste in der gesellschaftlichen Mitte zurückzuführen, die sich in sozial distinkten Bildungsstrategien, kulturellen Praktiken, Ernährung, Sport, politischer Haltung, Werten und Geselligkeitsformen ausdrücken. Der Beitrag analysiert die mit Bewunderung, Verachtung und Scham affektiv aufgeladenen Aufstiegs- bzw. Abstiegsvorstellungen als „signature fantasies“ der Mittelklassen, die nicht nur Leistungsanforderungen, Statusarbeit und Privilegien, sondern auch Enttäuschung und Erschöpfung am Weg nach oben mit Bedeutung versehen.
... Conspiracism is not the only belief system employed to reduce the uncertainty caused by random large-scale events and allow individuals to find meaning in attributing the causes to hidden or unseen forces (Oliver & Wood, 2014). Religious beliefs may also serve to mitigate existential uncertainty (Barber, 2011). Research examining both conspiracism and belief in, or personal importance of, a supernatural or spiritual higher being, or organized system of faith and worship, suggests a positive relationship between the two (Mancosu et al., 2017;Ståhl & van Prooijen, 2018). ...
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Conspiracism is not restricted to the fringe dwellers of society. International research suggests that such beliefs are quite common and that conspiracy theories may serve three basic psychological motives (i.e., epistemic, existential, and relational) for individuals. Yet, little is known about conspiracy theory awareness or conspiracism in Australasia. We report the first large systematic investigation of system justifying motives using two nationally representative samples of Australians (n = 1,011) and New Zealanders (n = 754). Our findings show that almost all are aware of local and international conspiracies, and the majority endorse one or more. Also, that all three psychological motives consistently relate to conspiracism but not to awareness. In a series of hierarchical multiple regressions, we find that epistemic (i.e., decreased analytic thinking), existential (i.e., less trust in others, and socially conservative political ideology and increased religiosity), and relational motives (i.e., increased anomie and disillusionment with the government) were all significant unique predictors of increased local and international conspiracism. Findings are discussed in terms of the importance of understanding conspiracism as an ideological belief system that may function to serve underlying psychological motives. MOTIVATIONAL CORRELATES OF CONSPIRACISM 3
... With respect to the second implication, our study complements prior studies that link culture to alcohol hazards (Venuleo et al., 2015), suicide risks (Eshun, 1999), and anxiety (Heim et al., 2017). In addition to linking national culture to anxiety management practices (Barber, 2011), we show some of the underlying causal mechanisms between culture and innovative projects for the anxiety management (Bukowski & Rudnicki, 2019). ...
Article
Anxiety has become ubiquitous in modern life and across countries. Cultural theories suggest that high uncertainty avoidance (UA) increases anxiety and long-term orientation (LTO) decreases it. Does the high UA culture attract R&D projects for the anxiety management of the people in that region more than does LTO, and do the opposite dimensions moderate each other in attracting the firm’s response? This article explores this link between the UA culture with the moderation effect of LTO. Using data on clinical trials related to anxiety management projects in 67 countries, 10585 observations, which captures 4% of the entire population of clinical trials projects in the world, we find several insights. Directly, the UAI shows a negative correlation with the anxiety project intensity, and LTO has no significant correlation with the anxiety projects. The interaction between the two shows a positive correlation. The results are significant after controlling for confounding variables and robustness checks. This study makes three contributions. First, it highlights the link between culture and anxiety management projects through clinical trial movement. Second, it contributes to the cultural theory, suggesting that the UAI defines problems and LTO defines innovative solutions. It also clarifies differences and links between UAI and LTO at the conceptual level. Thirdly, it offers general and points to future research avenues.
... Such patients who use negative religious coping may perceive a cancer diagnosis as evidence of abandonment and punishment from God. In addition, Iranian patients with cancer who deny having religious beliefs and refrain from associated religious coping behaviors as part of the socio-religious cultural paradigm may potentially be more prone to depressive thoughts and negative effect about death [29]. For Muslims who believe in life after death, such negative perceptions may increase aversive effect and provoke depressive cognitions about death [2,25]. ...
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Abstract Purpose The study investigated relationships among the extent of disease, religious coping, and death depression in Iranian patients with cancer. Method A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted with a convenience sample of 482 Iranian cancer patients. Participants completed demographic and health, death depression, and religious coping surveys. Results After controlling for demographic and health characteristics, positive and negative religious coping behaviors were significantly related to the experience of death depression. There was an interaction effect between negative religious coping and extent of disease with significant positive relationships to the experience of death depression. Conclusions Negative religious coping was found to be more closely associated with death depression in patients with earlier stage disease than those with advanced stages of cancer in this sample of patients with cancer from Iran. Findings support assessing patients for use of religious coping strategies. Muslim patients who are religiously alienated and have existential anguish may be vulnerable and need heightened support following diagnosis and during treatment of early stage cancer
... The capacities and skills of contemporary human populations are linked to the presence (or absence) of naturalistic education about the actual (non-supernatural) causal mechanisms at work in the world. Hasan concludes that high levels of religious beliefs in the Global South suppress the capacities and skills needed for sustainable development and exacerbate conflict, a claim that is widely supported in the relevant literature [110][111][112][113]. ...
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This article begins with a brief outline of recent advances in the application of computer modeling to sustainability research, identifying important gaps in coverage and associated limits in methodological capability, particularly in regard to taking account of the tangled human factors that are often impediments to a sustainable future. It then describes some of the ways in which a new transdisciplinary approach within “human simulation” can contribute to the further development of sustainability modeling, more effectively addressing such human factors through its emphasis on stakeholder, policy professional, and subject matter expert participation, and its focus on constructing more realistic cognitive architectures and artificial societies. Finally, the article offers philosophical reflections on some of the ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues raised at the intersection of sustainability research and social simulation, considered in light of the importance of human factors, including values and worldviews, in the modeling process. Based on this philosophical analysis, we encourage more explicit conversations about the value of naturalism and secularism in finding and facilitating effective and ethical strategies for sustainable development.
... Belief in conspiracies is not the only ideology employed to reduce the uncertainty caused by random large-scale events and allow individuals to find meaning in attributing the causes to hidden or unseen forces (Oliver & Wood, 2014). Religious beliefs may also serve to mitigate existential uncertainty (Barber, 2011). Research examining both belief in conspiracies and belief in, or personal importance of, a supernatural or spiritual higher being, or organized system of faith and worship, suggests a positive relationship between the two (Mancosu et al., 2017;Ståhl & van Prooijen, 2018). ...
Article
Belief in conspiracies is not restricted to the fringe dwellers of society. International research suggests that such beliefs are quite common and that conspiracy theories may serve three basic psychological motives (i.e., epistemic, existential, and relational) for individuals. Yet, little is known about conspiracy theory awareness or belief in Australasia. We report the first large systematic investigation of system‐justifying motives using two nationally representative samples of Australians (n = 1011) and New Zealanders (n = 754). Our findings show that almost all are aware of local and international conspiracies, the majority endorse one or more, and that all three psychological motives consistently relate to conspiracy belief, but not to awareness. In a series of hierarchical multiple regressions, we find that relational (i.e., increased anomie and disillusionment with the government) and existential motives (i.e., less trust in others and increased religiosity) are uniquely and relatively more important than epistemic needs (i.e., decreased analytic thinking) as predictors of increased local and international conspiracy belief. Findings are discussed in terms of the importance of understanding conspiracy theories as an ideological belief system that may function to serve underlying psychological motives.
... According to Li and Bond, a better "cultural fit" between individuals who endorse secular values and high-HDI countries enhances the level of life satisfaction. This view is supported by the existential security framework by Barber (2011) and Norris and Inglehart (2011), which posits that the need for religiosity declines with economic development, income security, and improved health. ...
Article
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Most previous research purportedly indicates a stable linear relationship between (non)religiosity and life satisfaction, but a review of these studies reveals a less consistent relationship and several conceptual and methodological issues. More recent research adds to the relationship's complexity by indicating that certain government regulations, social norms of religiosity, and a country's level of societal development interact with the relationship between individual (non)religiosity and life satisfaction. At the individual level, nonbelief certainty, nonreligious identity, belief in science, secular sources of meaning in life, and nonreligious group memberships appear to be central to nonreligious individuals’ life satisfaction. These findings emphasize the need for considering interactions with context factors, for differentiating between (non)religious subgroups, for multidimensional conceptualizations of nonreligiosity beyond the mere absence of religiosity, and for testing for nonlinear relationships. When these aspects are included in empirical research, differences in the level of life satisfaction between religious and nonreligious individuals largely disappear.
... They rated people in 98 societies on a collectivist-individualist scale, finding that a high threat of disease goes with collectivist attitudes, controlling for wealth and urbanization. Again similarly, biopsychologist Nigel Barber finds that religion helps people cope with dangerous situations; while religious belief declines as economic development brings greater economic security and health (Barber, 2011). These findings echo the predictions of evolutionary modernization theory. ...
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A society's culture is shaped by the extent to which its people grow up feeling that survival is secure or insecure. This article presents a revised version of modernization theory-Evolutionary Modernization theory-which argues that economic and physical insecurity are conducive to xenophobia, strong in-group solidarity, authoritarian politics and rigid adherence to their group's traditional cultural norms-and conversely that secure conditions lead to greater tolerance of outgroups, openness to new ideas and more egalitarian social norms.
... The compensatory functions of religion can also be observed in cross-national comparisons. The degree of difficult and insecure living conditions in a given region is associated with greater religious endorsement, while areas in which needs for control and stability are already satisfied (e.g., via stable institutions) tend to be the most secular (Barber 2011;Diener, Tay and Myers 2011). These results mirror experimental findings in suggesting that RS beliefs (e.g., a personally-available and controlling God) are generated by needs for existential and epistemic security. ...
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Subjective religious and spiritual experiences (RS) are believed by many to be reliable indicators of external agency. A set of related phenomena are used to support this view that typically involve intuitions or attributions of mental interaction or experiences with RS agents. The present review integrates empirical findings from the fields of the Cognitive Sciences of Religion, experimental social psychology, and neuropsychology to support the position that individuals misattribute RS thoughts and experiences. That is, these experiences are believed to be veridical indicators of external agency when in fact they are subject to materialistic causal influences. This tendency varies as a function of individual differences and contextual conditions. RS phenomena can be artificially generated in a way that is phenomenologically indistinguishable from spontaneous experiences. Intuitions of external agency are rationalized and confabulated, leaving the mistaken impression of validation by analytic processes. The theoretical and philosophical implications of findings are discussed.
... The theory dovetails with other theoretical accounts that view religion as a shared meaning system expressed in symbols ( Durkheim, 1915 ;Geertz, 1973 ), values ( Cohen and Hill, 2007 ;Tarakeshwar et al., 2003 ), institutions ( Batson et al., 1993 ), or practices ( Koenig and Büssing, 2010 ). Consistent with the above treatments of religion, prior research has revealed that religiosity thrives when societies experience existential shocks like warfare, natural disasters, or economic downturns ( Barber, 2011 ;Henrich et al., 2019 ;Storm, 2017 ;Sortheix et al., 2019 ). ...
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One prominent theory of social change predicts secularization—when societies prosper, people rely less on religion for ensuring survival, social order, and meaning of life. While some researchers claimed that secularization is universal, critics contended that it does not explain patterns of religious change in non-Western societies. To settle this debate, we applied multilevel modeling to analyze historical, socio-economic factors that moderated the process of secularization around the world. We predicted that secularization occurs as a result of modernization in societies where historical wealth and democratic institutions were established to ensure social, political, and ecological complexity for citizens. We also used the cultural evolutionary account of religion to predict that modernization strengthens people's need for religiosity in societies without well-functioning institutions to mitigate increased social complexity. We used GDP and infant mortality as indices of modernization, the Gini index as an indicator of social complexity, and communist history (non-communist vs. post-communist) and the proportion of Christianity as historical contexts to explain variability in the within-society processes of secularization. Analyzing religiosity data with over 100 countries over 30 years, we found support for the secularization hypothesis primarily among formerly wealthy countries: in years when economic wealth increased, religiosity declined. However, an increase in GDP predicted increasing religiosity among formerly poor countries. We also found that increased economic inequality was linked with greater religiosity only among post-communist countries or Christian-minority countries: when economic inequality increased in those countries, religiosity increased. We integrate these findings and the present analytical approach to discuss implications for cross-cultural research and the study of cultural change.
... Zahlreiche empirische Studien haben diesen Zusammenhang auf der Ebene des weltweiten Ländervergleichs bestätigt. Je höher das Wohlstandsniveau (gemessen am BIP pro Kopf) und je besser die medizinische Versorgung und die sozialstaatliche Absicherung, desto niedriger ist in der Regel der Anteil religiöser Menschen in einem Land (Gill und Lundsgaarde 2004;Rees 2009;Barber 2011). 2 Weniger eindeutig sind die Ergebnisse in Hinblick auf den Zusammenhang zwischen existenzieller Unsicherheit und Religiosität auf individueller Ebene innerhalb einzelner Länder. ...
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Zusammenfassung Dieser Beitrag widmet sich der Frage, wie sich die Einstellungen zum Klimawandel, die Umweltbesorgnis und die Bereitschaft zu umweltbewusstem Handeln im Laufe der Corona-Krise in der österreichischen Bevölkerung entwickelt haben. In Anbetracht der unmittelbaren Bedrohung durch die Covid-19-Pandemie und deren direkte Auswirkungen auf die österreichische Bevölkerung (Herunterfahren der Wirtschaft, Einschränkungen des sozialen Lebens usw.) liegt die Vermutung nahe, dass das Thema Umwelt in den Hintergrund rückte. Um dies zu untersuchen, wurden drei voneinander unabhängige Datensätze ( OeNB, Values in Crisis und Polarization in Public Opinion) herangezogen. Die drei Datensätze sind in ihrer Erhebungszeit vor, während und nach der ersten Covid-19-Welle einzuordnen. Lineare Modelle zeigen, dass sowohl die Umweltbesorgnis als auch die Bereitschaft zu umweltbewusstem Verhalten in der Krise gesunken sind, wenngleich nur in den Ballungsräumen Wien, Niederösterreich und Steiermark. Andererseits stieg die Wahrnehmung der negativen Auswirkungen des Klimawandels an. Im Verlauf der Krise zeigt sich zudem, dass trotz der sinkenden Umweltbesorgnis diese dennoch der stärkste Prädiktor zu intentionsorientiertem Umweltverhalten bleibt und nach Ende der ersten Welle einen noch stärkeren Erklärungswert liefert als zuvor.
... Zahlreiche empirische Studien haben diesen Zusammenhang auf der Ebene des weltweiten Ländervergleichs bestätigt. Je höher das Wohlstandsniveau (gemessen am BIP pro Kopf) und je besser die medizinische Versorgung und die sozialstaatliche Absicherung, desto niedriger ist in der Regel der Anteil religiöser Menschen in einem Land (Gill und Lundsgaarde 2004;Rees 2009;Barber 2011). 2 Weniger eindeutig sind die Ergebnisse in Hinblick auf den Zusammenhang zwischen existenzieller Unsicherheit und Religiosität auf individueller Ebene innerhalb einzelner Länder. ...
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Zusammenfassung Menschen sind soziale Wesen, weshalb Kontakte zu anderen Personen einen wichtigen Beitrag für das eigene Wohlbefinden leisten. Durch die Corona-Krise dreht sich diese Vorstellung dagegen um – Abstand halten heißt das neue Gebot, um die Gesundheit zu wahren. Vor diesem Hintergrund untersuchen wir in diesem Buchbeitrag den Verlauf von Sozialkontakten und Wohlbefinden, sowie den Zusammenhang zwischen diesen beiden Konstrukten von Ende März bis Anfang Juli 2020. Wie erwartet zeigt sich ein sprunghafter Anstieg physischer sozialer Kontakte seit Anfang Mai und somit seit den damals eingeführten Lockerungsverordnungen. Gleichzeitig verringerten sich die nicht-physischen Sozialkontakte (via Telefon & Internet) seit dem 1. Lockdown kontinuierlich, was auf eine Substitution für physische Sozialkontakte hinweist. Affektives- und kognitives Wohlbefinden zeigen einen kleinen und gleichmäßigen Anstieg über diesen Zeitraum. Weitere Analysen weisen auf einen signifikanten aber geringen Einfluss von physischen Sozialkontakten auf das Wohlbefinden hin – der physische Kontakt zu Freunden und Verwandten führt demnach zu einem geringen Anstieg des Wohlbefindens. Weiterführende Vergleiche zwischen alleinlebenden und nicht-alleinlebenden Österreicher*innen zeigten, dass alleinlebende Personen häufiger auf nicht-physische Sozialkontakte zurückgriffen als physische Sozialkontakte durch restriktive Maßnahmen erschwert wurden.
... In other words, the importance of this practice increases as NHI decreases, suggesting that in harsher and more demanding environments (presumably due to the importance of paternal investment and the threat of female infidelity) stricter provisions are enforced concerning mate guarding through religious institutions, as there is increased need to guard one's (female) mates from mate poachers under such conditions. Our results are in accordance with those of Barber (2011), who showed that religious belief declines in economically developed countries as income security and health conditions improve, although GDP per capita was not associated with the importance of the hijab in Muslim countries. This latter result highlights the strengths of the current hypothesis that health condition in general and child survivorship in particular in more demanding conditions are enforced by stricter cultural practices to secure paternal investment and has nothing to do with GDP per capita. ...
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Male parental investment can contribute to the fitness of both sexes through increased fertility and child survivorship. The level and intensity of parental investment are dependent upon ecological variations: in harsh and demanding environments, the need for biparental care increases. Moreover, when environmental pressures increase, uncertainty over paternity may lead to favoring stricter mate-guarding practices, thus directing males to invest more effort toward controlling and guarding their mates from infidelity. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that religious veiling, as a social and cultural practice which regulates and restricts sexuality, will be more important in harsher environments. Our results show that harsh and demanding environments are associated with the importance of religious veiling and the level of religiosity, providing a link between cultural practices such as religious veiling and ecological variation.
... The positive correlation between higher degrees of social inequality and religiosity is interpreted in terms of this thesis (Norris and Inglehart, 2011) as well. Several researchers have confirmed the existential security thesis for different sets of countries and indicators such as infant mortality, access to water, prevalence of infectious diseases, homicide rate, corruption index, peace index, a multidimensional poverty index, etc. (Barber, 2011;Rees, 2009;Ruiter and Van Tubergen, 2009). Accordingly, it was found that higher welfare spending goes together with lower levels of religiousness (Gill and Lundsgaarde, 2004;Scheve and Stasavage, 2006). ...
Article
In Sacred and Secular (2011 [2004]) Norris and Inglehart argued that improvements in material living conditions and higher degrees of existential security lead to a decline in religiousness both on the macro-level of the comparison between countries and on the individual level. Since then, a number of studies have examined this relationship and confirmed the assumptions of the existential security thesis. This article revisits this thesis using data from the sixth wave of the World Values Survey (2010–2014). The multi-level analysis reveals two key results. Consistent with previous studies, a strong correlation was found between better life conditions and lower levels of religiousness on the macro-level. Individual life conditions and threatening experiences, however, have only a very small impact on religiousness. Possible explanations for the discrepancy between macro-level and micro-level results are discussed in the final section.
Article
This study demonstrates the relations of the position of education in the correlation between religiosity, and socioeconomic variables by using national-level, and large survey data. We used data from the international survey of 68 countries, and used statistical methods to create the composite scores of every variable. Next, we used Pearson and partial correlations to determine the significance of the relations between the three variables and path analysis to investigate the directions. The correlation coefficient between academic and religiosity variables was a significant and negatively high correlation; furthermore, the partial correlation was strong and significant when the socioeconomic variable was controlled. The correlation between religiosity and socioeconomic variables was a significant and negatively high correlation, and the partial correlation was not significant when the academic variable was controlled for. The correlation between academic and socioeconomic variables was a significant and positively high correlation, and the partial correlation was significant when the religious variable was controlled for. The path analysis reveals that the direction is as follows: socioeconomic, education, and finally, religiosity. Based on our results and the reviewed literature, this paper discusses how these results contribute to the secularization theory and how education mediates religiosity and socioeconomic variable.
Chapter
This chapter discusses the concept of secularity in all of its complexity. Secularity is situated along a continuum and discussed in terms of belief, behavior, belonging and benefitting. The chapter then turns to a review of major theorists of secularization and what they have in common. The chapter closes with a proposed interdisciplinary and integrative theory of secularization which emphasizes subcultural tightening and self-dimensionality.
Article
Bronislaw Malinowski suggested nearly a century ago that a key purpose of religious engagement is to provide a sense of stability in the face of uncertainty. This close relationship between religion and stability is often presumed by scholars today, but, we argue, it is not as universal as is often supposed. Drawing on over 15 years of ethnographic research in Northern Thailand, we show how Thai Buddhists actively and strategically remind themselves of the inherent precarity of the future, rather than seek to minimize it. Analyzing rhetoric that draws on shared understandings of the uncertain in day‐to‐day religious practice, we show how Thai Buddhists strive for what we call “aimless agency”: a psychological acceptance of future unknowability. We use this ethnographic example to suggest further work on the social implications of impermanence and the importance of paying greater attention to cultural variability in religious approaches to an uncertain world.
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Historically, there has been widespread acceptance of the claim that religious belief – and, in particular, theistic belief – is essential to human flourishing, both for human individuals and for human societies. With the relatively recent rise of prosperous secular democracies, it is possible to put this claim to empirical test. When we do, we find no support for the claim that theistic belief is essential to human flourishing, and significant support for the claim that theistic belief impacts negatively on human flourishing.
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Despite accumulating evidence of the importance of social capital in predicting health outcomes, no work has yet systematically investigated the structural differences between the social networks of god-believers and atheists. This is an especially important gap in the religion/secularism research because religiosity appears to be declining throughout the Western world (Zuckerman, Galen & Pasquale, 2016). Despite stereotypes of atheists as atomized, psychologically unhealthy and anti-social (e.g., Bainbridge, 2005), a growing body of evidence suggests that strongly-identified atheists are more likely to join secular social clubs as well as benefit from better mental and physical health compared to less affirmatively-identified secular individuals. As a step toward developing this line of research, the present article operationalizes social network structure within the study of secularism, discusses the available research with a focus on atheism in particular, and integrates this research into a schematic theoretical model of atheist self-identity, network structure and health.
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Considering the impact of religiosity on the perceptions regarding life quality, in this paper we focus on the effects of the appurtenance to a religion on the standard of living in several economically developing countries (Turkey, Ukraine, Senegal and Morocco). The data have been collected using a survey carried out in 2012 and the empirical analysis was based on non-parametric tests and multinomial logistic regression. The results indicate there are differences between religious persons and atheists regarding gender, marital status, perceptions of daily life and standards of living. Females and officially married people or single people tend to be more religious. A person claiming to belong to a religion has 2-4-fold more chances to achieve a considerable improvement in the standards of living as compared to an atheist. Moreover, religious people from the analyzed countries are more optimistic about their life overall. Taking into account the sample’s characteristics and the countries chosen, we can claim that the results obtained are truly cross-cultural in nature. Moreover, most of the conclusions reached would be to some extent relevant to other developing economies of Eastern Europe, North Africa and Middle East.
Article
Social scientists have devoted much attention to explaining individual and contextual variation in religiosity. Among other things, authoritarianism is reliably found to be associated with greater religiosity. Though education and human development are often thought to reduce religiosity, we show in this study that the relationship between authoritarianism and various indices of religiosity is stronger in the presence of greater educational attainment and living in a society with a higher level of human development. Using two large cross‐cultural data sets from the World Values Survey, we find evidence that authoritarianism is more strongly associated with religious involvement and practice among individuals at higher levels of education and individuals living in societies with higher level of human development. Thus, we demonstrate that the connection between authoritarianism and religiosity is contingent on both individual‐level and societal moderators.
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To what extent do supernatural beliefs, group affiliation, and social interaction produce values and behaviors that benefit others, i.e., 'prosociality'? Addressing this question involves multiple variables interacting within complex social networks that shape and constrain the beliefs and behaviors of individuals. We examine the relationships among some of these factors utilizing data from the World Values Survey to inform the construction of an Agent-Based Model. The latter was able to identify the conditions under which – and the mechanisms by which – the prosociality of simulated agents was increased or decreased within an “artificial society” designed to reflect real world parameters. The combined results indicated that prosociality was more related to agents’ group affiliation and social networks than to their worldview beliefs. It also showed that prosociality changed as a function of agents’ worldviews, group affiliation, and social network properties. Individuals with supernatural worldviews had higher levels of active prosociality, but this was primarily directed toward ingroup members. Naturalistic believers and the unaffiliated, on the other hand, tended to have higher levels of trust and tolerance. We describe the potential usefulness of such modeling techniques for addressing complex problems in the study of secularity and nonreligion.
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In diesem Beitrag wird unter Bezugnahme auf gängige religionssoziologische Thesen (Deprivations-, Sozialkapital- und Individualisierungsthese) anhand der Daten des Sozialen Survey Österreich 2018 untersucht, ob und in welcher Weise Religiosität mit der sozialen Schichtzugehörigkeit in Verbindung steht. Die Analysen zeigen, dass sich verschiedene soziale Statusgruppen in Hinblick auf den Grad der kirchlichen Religiosität kaum voneinander unterscheiden. Alternative spirituelle Praktiken hingegen finden vor allem im höheren Bildungsmilieu Anklang.
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The growing interest in the impact that organizations have on society has made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a matter of extraordinary relevance. Religions are among the factors that may drive the adoption of more CSR practices and, as such, may play a significant role in their promotion. The aim here is to discover whether religions contribute to the development of a broader range of CSR initiatives on the basis of Stakeholder, and Legitimacy theories. We studied the impact of different religions on an index made up of 122 CSR practices that include social and environmental issues. We tested the hypothesis proposed through panel data models for a sample composed of 13,884 firm-year observations from 30 countries. Our findings suggest that certain religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, have a positive influence on the adoption of CSR practices. Companies operating in countries with a high percentage of adherents to these religions are more prone to undertake CSR activities. However, Islam, Hinduism, and Folk religions record an inverse trend that evidences a negative link. JEL codes: M14, M16
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Zusammenfassung Eine wichtige Funktion der Religion im Verlauf der Menschheitsgeschichte liegt darin, die Menschen bei der Bewältigung existenziell bedrohlicher Lebenssituationen zu unterstützen. In einem prosperierenden Staat wie Österreich, mit einem funktionierenden Gesundheitssystem und einem etablierten Wohlfahrtsstaat, in dem die meisten relativ gut gegen ökonomische Risiken abgesichert sind, könnte die gegenwärtige Krise aber nur bedingt mit einer stärkeren Bedeutung von Religiosität und Spiritualität einhergehen. Andererseits könnten sich religiös und spirituell aktive Personen sowohl in der Krisenbewältigung, als auch in solidarischen Einstellungen von nicht religiösen Personen unterscheiden. Vor diesem Hintergrund werden im Beitrag anhand des Austrian Corona Panel Projekts (ACPP) vier Fragestellungen untersucht? 1) Ist die Religiosität in der Zeit der Covid-19-Pandemie im Vergleich zu den vorhergehenden Jahren in der Gesamtgesellschaft tendenziell gestiegen? 2) Führt eine starke gesundheitliche oder ökonomische Betroffenheit durch die Corona-Krise zu einer höheren Bedeutung von Religion und Spiritualität? 3) Wie wirken sich Religiosität und Spiritualität auf das emotionale Wohlbefinden, die Lebenszufriedenheit und die Strategien der Krisenbewältigung (Coping-Strategien) aus? 4) Unterscheiden sich religiöse, spirituelle und nicht religiöse Menschen in Hinblick auf ihre Haltung zur staatlichen Krisenpolitik, den Umgang mit den sozialen Distanzregelungen sowie dem Solidarverhalten gegenüber Menschen, die besonders von der Krise betroffen sind?
Article
What are the consequences of state support for, and official recognition of, one religion or religious institution over all others in the state? Previous studies have focused on the impact of a state's religion policies on overall religiosity in that state. In contrast, I argue that state support will have markedly different consequences for (1) the favored religious firm and (2) all other religious institutions. Similar to religious market theory, I expect that dependence on state support creates disincentives for the favored religious organization to attract adherents. However, I theorize that the weaknesses that state-backed favoritism engenders in the favored religion should create opportunities for other religious firms to compete and thrive. I conduct a multivariate quantitative analysis of changes in religious affiliation in 174 states between 1990 and 2010, controlling for factors like existential security, regime type, net migration, post-Communist background, and major religious traditions. My findings suggest that, consistent with my expectations, religious institutions that receive favorable treatment from the state lose ground relative to those that do not.
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Studies of religious and other cultural groups tend to be particularistic or focus on one or more axes of variation. In this article we develop a more comprehensive approach to studying cultural diversity that emulates the study of biological diversity. We compare our cultural ecosystem approach with the axis approach, using the distinction between “tight” and “loose” cultures as an example. We show that while the axis approach is useful, the cultural ecosystem approach adds considerable value to the axis approach. We end by advocating the establishment of field sites for the study of religious and cultural diversity, comparable to biological field sites.
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The results of this cross-cultural study suggest that war may be caused mostly by a fear of nature and a partially resultant fear of others. A history of unpredictable natural disasters strongly predicts more war, as does socialization for mistrust (but less strongly). It seems that people, particularly in nonstate societies, may try to protect themselves against future disasters by going to war to take resources from enemies.
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Believing in and practicing a religion can serve as a hard-to-fake sign of commitment in the sense defined by Thomas Shelling (1960). This is only one of many functions of religion. Because of the importance of signs of commitment in human social life, this function may have played a role in the evolution of the human propensity to form and practice religions. Thomas Shelling C. (1960) The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press.
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Better understanding the nature, origin and popularity of varying levels of popular religion versus secularism, and their impact upon socioeconomic conditions and vice versa, requires a cross national comparison of the competing factors in populations where opinions are freely chosen. Utilizing 25 indicators, the uniquely extensive Successful Societies Scale reveals that population diversity and immigration correlate weakly with 1st world socioeconomic conditions, and high levels of income disparity, popular religiosity as measured by differing levels of belief and activity, and rejection of evolutionary science correlate strongly negatively with improving conditions. The historically unprecedented socioeconomic security that results from low levels of progressive government policies appear to suppress popular religiosity and creationist opinion, conservative religious ideology apparently contributes to societal dysfunction, and religious prosociality and charity are less effective at improving societal conditions than are secular government programs. The antagonistic relationship between better socioeconomic conditions and intense popular faith may prevent the existence of nations that combine the two factors. The nonuniversality of strong religious devotion, and the ease with large populations abandon serious theism when conditions are sufficiently benign, refute hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal, deeply set human mental state, whether they are superficial or natural in nature. Instead popular religion is usually a superficial and flexible psychological mechanism for coping with the high levels of stress and anxiety produced by sufficiently dysfunctional social and especially economic environments. Popular nontheism is a similarly casual response to superior conditions.
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Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe. It is shown that intelligence measured as psychometric g is negatively related to religious belief. We also examine whether this negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief is present between nations. We find that in a sample of 137 countries the correlation between national IQ and disbelief in God is 0.60.
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As the brain of early humans expanded, they gained increasing abilities of considering cooperative tasks – finally including reproduction . The subsequent, probably convergent evolution of religious beliefs and related behaviors such as burials and offerings among Homo sapiens and among Homo neanderthalensis illustrates that religious abilities evolved as a logical consequence: perceived supernatural agents like ancestors or Gods are experienced as observing streams of tradition conferring values and communal trust, rewarding cooperative adherents and punishing transgressors. They advocate reproductive motivation as well as marriage. Believers may signal their trustworthiness to each other by costly obligations and rituals dedicated to the supernatural agents. Religion-related genetic dispositions as well as demographically successful traditions are thus favoured by direct and kin selection and by sexual selection , as shown by the Swiss Census 2000 and international demographic data.
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Why are religions far more numerous in the tropics compared with the temperate areas? We propose, as an answer, that more religions have emerged and are maintained in the tropics because, through localized coevolutionary races with hosts, infectious diseases select for three anticontagion behaviours: in-group assortative sociality; out-group avoidance; and limited dispersal. These behaviours, in turn, create intergroup boundaries that effectively fractionate, isolate and diversify an original culture leading to the genesis of two or more groups from one. Religion is one aspect of a group's culture that undergoes this process. If this argument is correct then, across the globe, religion diversity should correlate positively with infectious disease diversity, reflecting an evolutionary history of antagonistic coevolution between parasites and hosts and subsequent religion genesis. We present evidence that supports this model: for a global sample of traditional societies, societal range size is reduced in areas with more pathogens compared with areas with few pathogens, and in contemporary countries religion diversity is positively related to two measures of parasite stress.
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Claims about religion, spirituality, and health have recently appeared with increasing frequency, in both the popular media and professional journals. These claims have asserted that there are a great many studies in the literature that have examined relations between religious involvement and health outcomes and that the majority of them have shown that religious people are healthier. We examined the validity of these claims in two ways: (a) To determine the percentage of articles in the literature that were potentially relevant to such a claim, we identified all English-language articles with published abstracts identified by a Medline search using the search term religion in the year 2000, and (b) to examine the quality of the data in articles cited as providing support for such a claim, we examined all articles in the area of cardiovascular disease and hypertension cited by two comprehensive reviews of the literature. Of the 266 articles published in the year 2000 and identified by the Medline search, only 17% were relevant to claims of health benefits associated with religious involvement. About half of the articles cited in the comprehensive reviews were irrelevant to these claims. Of those that actually were relevant, many either had significant methodological flaws or were misrepresented, leaving only a few articles that could truly be described as demonstrating beneficial effects of religious involvement. We conclude that there is little empirical basis for assertions that religious involvement or activity is associated with beneficial health outcomes.
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Intercessory prayer is widely believed to influence recovery from illness, but claims of benefits are not supported by well-controlled clinical trials. Prior studies have not addressed whether prayer itself or knowledge/certainty that prayer is being provided may influence outcome. We evaluated whether (1) receiving intercessory prayer or (2) being certain of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with uncomplicated recovery after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Patients at 6 US hospitals were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: 604 received intercessory prayer after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; 597 did not receive intercessory prayer also after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; and 601 received intercessory prayer after being informed they would receive prayer. Intercessory prayer was provided for 14 days, starting the night before CABG. The primary outcome was presence of any complication within 30 days of CABG. Secondary outcomes were any major event and mortality. In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in 59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52% (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups. Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.
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The metabolic syndrome is thought to be a contributor to coronary heart disease (CHD), and components of the syndrome have been identified as possible therapeutic targets. Previous data implicate neurohumoral activation related to psychosocial stress as a contributor to the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of transcendental meditation (TM) on components of the metabolic syndrome and CHD. We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 16 weeks of TM or active control treatment (health education), matched for frequency and time, at an academic medical center in a total of 103 subjects with stable CHD. Main outcome measures included blood pressure, lipoprotein profile, and insulin resistance determined by homeostasis model assessment (calculated as follows: [(fasting plasma glucose level [in milligrams per deciliter] x fasting plasma insulin level [in microunits per milliliter]) x 0.0552]/22.5); endothelial function measured by brachial artery reactivity testing; and cardiac autonomic system activity measured by heart rate variability. The TM group had beneficial changes (measured as mean +/- SD) in adjusted systolic blood pressure (-3.4 +/- 2.0 vs 2.8 +/- 2.1 mm Hg; P = .04), insulin resistance (-0.75 +/- 2.04 vs 0.52 +/- 2.84; P = .01), and heart rate variability (0.10 +/- 0.17 vs -0.50 +/- 0.17 high-frequency power; P = .07) compared with the health education group, respectively. There was no effect of brachial artery reactivity testing. Use of TM for 16 weeks in CHD patients improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of the metabolic syndrome as well as cardiac autonomic nervous system tone compared with a control group receiving health education. These results suggest that TM may modulate the physiological response to stress and improve CHD risk factors, which may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD.
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This article aims to assess the role of religion and religiousness in engendering higher US fertility compared to Europe. Religion is important in the life of one-half of US women, whereas not even for one of six Europeans. By every available measure, American women are more religious than European women. Catholic and Protestant women have notably higher fertility than those not belonging to any denomination in the US and across Europe. In all European regions and in the United States as well as among all denominations the more devout have more children. However, women in Northern and Western Europe who are the least religious have equivalent or even higher fertility than women in the US, and notably higher fertility than those in Southern Europe. This suggests that forces other than religion and religiousness are also important in their impact on childbearing. A multivariate analysis demonstrates that relatively "traditional" socio-economic covariates (age, marital status, residence, education, and income) do not substantially change the positive association of religiousness and fertility. Finally, if Europeans were as religious as Americans one might theoretically expect a small fertility increase for Europe as a whole, but considerably more for Western Europe.
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Determining what percentage of a given society believes in God - or doesn't - is fraught with methodological hurdles. First: low response rates; most people do not respond to surveys, and response rates of lower than 50 percent cannot be generalized to the wider society. Second: nonrandom samples. If the sample is not randomly selected - that is, every member of the given population has an equal chance of being chosen - it is nongeneralizable. Third: adverse political/cultural climates. In totalitarian countries where atheism is governmentally promulgated and risks are present for citizens viewed as disloyal, individuals will be reluctant to admit that they do believe in God. Conversely, in societies where religion is enforced by the government and risks are present for citizens viewed as nonbelievers, individuals will be reluctant to admit that they don't believe in Allah, regardless of whether anonymity is “guaranteed. ” Even in democratic societies without governmental coercion, individuals often feel that it is necessary to say that are religious, simply because such a response is socially desirable or culturally appropriate. For example, the designation “atheist ” is stigmatized in many societies; even when people directly claim to not believe in God, they still eschew the self-designation of “atheist. ”
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August Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud predicted that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the emergence of industrial society. Their belief that religion was dying became conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century. However, this analysis reveals that the traditional secularization thesis needs updating now. Religion has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so, even though secularization has had a surprisingly powerful negative impact on human fertility rates.
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The concept of adaptation has been defined too rigidly by evolutionary psychologists so as to exclude modern conditions. This article proposes a more flexible, and useful, application of the term.Among animals with extensive social learning, adaptations must include behaviors that enhance current fitness on average (rather than over the distant past). Because the content of social learning is non genetic, it is selected directly via the phenotype and immediate fitness consequences. Used thus, the concept of adaptation provides a viable research strategy for investigating differences among modern societies. These concepts are illustrated concerning intelligence as a function of the varied cognitive demands of different societies. The author concludes that societal variation in intelligence (including the Flynn effect) is best understood in terms of responses by individuals to varied levels of cognitive enrichment. Research on intelligence thus illustrates the value of a more flexible definition of adaptation than the genetic-determinist one preferred by most evolutionary psychologists.
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Low fertility in modern societies challenges evolutionary social scientists. A comparative analysis of less developed countries investigated various possible predictors of low fertility including urbanization, monogamous marriage, level of participation in the monetary economy (GDP), and low infant mortality. Using a sample of 45 countries broken out by urban and rural location, each of these predictors of total fertility was significant in a regression analysis (r 2 = .76) that controlled for survey year, geographic latitude, sex ratio, and geographic hemisphere. Multivariate prediction estimated that the demographic shift (TFR < 2.6) occurs when infant mortality falls below 33 per thousand, when polygyny reaches zero, and when GDP per capita rises above US$20,508. (The low fertility at high latitudes, reported by Barber, was further found explainable in terms of monogamous marriage). Declining fertility in modern societies evidently constitutes an adaptive response to ecological conditions and is largely predictable from them.
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We examined the use of superstitious behavior by major league baseball players in the United States and Japan. The majority of professional players in both countries reported using supersti- tious behaviors but expressed little confidence that the behavior actually affected outcomes. Con- sistent with the uncertainty hypothesis, the more players believed luck affected outcomes during the game, the more they engaged in superstitious behavior. American players tended to be more superstitious than Japanese players. American players were more likely than the Japanese players to believe their superstitions aided their individual performance, whereas Japanese players were more likely than Americans to believe their superstitions helped the team performance.
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Previous research has shown an apparent relationship between "societal health" and religiosity, with nations that exhibit higher mean personal religiosity also tending to provide worse social environments. A possible cause is that exposure to stressful situations (i.e. personal insecurity) increases personal religiosity. To test this hypothesis, income inequality, a widely available proxy for personal insecurity, was compared with other macro-scale causes of religiosity (derived from modernization and rational choice theories) in a multinational, cross-sectional analysis. Income inequality, and hence personal insecurity, was found to be an important determinant of religiosity in this diverse sample of nations.
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Discusses whether nutritional improvements in industrialized countries can account for the worldwide rise in IQ scores, known as the Flynn effect. The analysis begins with a review of the nature of undernutrition, with special emphasis on the meaning of height as an indicator of nutrition. This is followed by an examination of secular trends in height in industrialized countries. Next, two types of evidence about nutrition and cognitive development are reviewed: (a) studies of intellectual performance in undernourished children from developing countries and (b) studies of the effects of multinutrient supplements on nonverbal intelligence and IQ in school-children from Europe and North America. In the final section, an integrated analysis is carried out that addresses the question of whether nutrition offers a plausible explanation for the Flynn effect. Specific emphasis is placed on the ways nutrition may affect intelligence in fetal life, early childhood, and in school age children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Reviews the relationship between schooling, IQ, and the cognitive processes presumed to underpin IQ. The data suggest that much of the causal pathway between IQ and schooling points in the direction of the importance of the quantity of schooling one attains (highest grade successfully completed). Schooling fosters the development of cognitive processes that underpin performance on most IQ tests. In Western nations, schooling conveys this influence on IQ and cognition through practices that appear unrelated to systematic variation in quality of schools. If correct, this could have implications for the meaning one attaches to IQ screening and prediction as well as for efforts to influence the development of IQ through changes in schooling practices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Neo-Darwinian theories of religion include both nonadaptationist and adaptationist versions. Nonadap-tationist versions contend that the mental architecture of the brain is wired for religious thinking but that religious concepts have piggybacked on other cognitive adaptations, especially those for agency detection. Religious concepts are not evolved biological adaptations but rather by-products of more general cognitive structures that are adaptations. Adaptationist versions concentrate on the benefits provided by religion, such as increased social cohesion and the individual benefits that stem from it, such as better physical and mental health and greater longevity. After clarifying the meaning of the terms ''adaptation'' and ''adaptationism,'' this article presents four lines of evidence in favor of the adaptationist position: (1) in the ancestral environment the role of the shaman was nearly universal and was primarily devoted to the crucial human goals of curing illness and protecting and finding vital resources; (2) religion generally has positive effects on both physical and mental health; (3) religions tend to be pro-natalist and more re-ligious people tend to leave more offspring than less religious or nonreligious people; (4) the major world religions that evolved in the first millennium BCE during a period of major social chaos and disruption emphasized an omnipotent, transcendent God of love and mercy who offered salvation in a heavenly after-life and released individuals from earthly suffering. None of these facts demonstrate conclusively that cog-nitive modules specifically oriented to supernatural agents evolved by natural selection, but they are highly suggestive and make a good inferential case.
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Religiosity can be characterized by seven main traits: transcendence , ultimate relatedness, mysticism , myth, morality , rite, and community . Why is it ubiquitous today and throughout human history? It might be an evolutionary adaptation in terms of natural or sexual selection , and not a mere by-product of other traits or exclusively a cultural phenomenon, describable for instance, by memetics. If so, the following conditions must hold: universality, reproductive success , heredity, realization, and selective advantage. A brief review shows that current data are consistent with the adaptation hypothesis, but not sufficient to confirm it; and there are also conceptual and empirical problems. Finally, what can evolutionary psychology and neurotheology tell us about the three main sources of religious beliefs and whether those beliefs are true?
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The new paradigm of evolutionary social science suggests that humans adjust rapidly to changing economic conditions, including cognitive changes in response to the economic significance of education. This research tested the predictions that cross-national differences in IQ scores would be positively correlated with education and negatively correlated with an agricultural way of life. Regression analysis found that much of the variance in IQ scores of 81 countries (derived from [Lynn, R., & Vanhanen, T. (2002). IQ and the wealth of nations. Westport, CT: Praeger]) was explained by enrollment in secondary education, illiteracy rates, and by the proportion of agricultural workers. Cross-national IQ scores were also related to low birth weights. These effects remained with national wealth, infant mortality, and geographic continent controlled (exception secondary education) and were largely due to variation within continents. Cross-national differences in IQ scores thus suggest that increasing cognitive demands in developed countries promote an adaptive increase in cognitive ability.
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It has been presumed that religiosity has an influence on mating behavior, but here we experimentally investigate the possibility that mating behavior might also influence religiosity. In Experiment 1, people reported higher religiosity after looking at mating pools consisting of attractive people of their own sex compared to attractive opposite sex targets. Experiment 2 replicated the effect with an added control group, and suggested that both men and women become more religious when seeing same sex competitors. We discuss several possible explanations for these effects. Most broadly, the findings contribute to an emerging literature on how cultural phenomena such as religiosity respond to ecological cues in potentially functional ways.
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The origin of values and preferences is an unresolved theoretical question in behavioural and social sciences. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, derived from the Savanna Principle and a theory of the evolution of general intelligence, suggests that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences (such as liberalism and atheism and, for men, sexual exclusivity) than less intelligent individuals, but that general intelligence may have no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar values. Macro-level analyses show that nations with higher average intelligence are more liberal (have greater highest marginal individual tax rate and, as a result, lower income inequality), less religious (a smaller proportion of the population believes in God or considers themselves religious) and more monogamous. The average intelligence of a population appears to be the strongest predictor of its level of liberalism, atheism and monogamy.
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In prior studies, the effect of religious involvement upon physical health has shown generally positive results, but these studies have been marred by confounders. The 65-year-old US prospective Study of Adult Development has offered an opportunity to repeat these studies with somewhat better control over confounders. The physical and mental health of 224 Harvard University sophomores was monitored for 65 years. Their religious involvement from church attendance to private spirituality was prospectively monitored every 2-4 years from age 47 to 85. In this analysis we focus on the male respondent. We found that religious involvement, no matter how measured was uncorrelated with their late life physical, mental and social well-being. The exception was that the 44 men with major depression or with multiple negative life events were twice as likely to manifest high religious involvement as men with the least "stress." If these findings can be generalized, they suggest that religious involvement may exert the greatest mental health benefits on people with the fewest alternative social and personal resources.