Publication details

Rituals for nam : ancestor and sorcery beliefs and their effect on parochial prosociality in Mauritius



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Nam (the spirit of a deceased person) beliefs are quite ambiguous because the spirit may be linked to ancestor worship but also to the practice of sorcery (illegal in Mauritius). Importantly, previous studies suggested that sorcery beliefs and practices can have a damaging impact on social bonds and trust, but such research is often limited by social stigma associated with sorcery and relevant comparison with other local deities is often missing. In our study, participants endorsing the sorcery mode of belief in nam together with performing rituals toward nam were more likely to break game rules for selfish outcomes in the Random Allocation Game (compared to the ancestor worship mode). These results complement studies testing evolutionary models of religious morality finding that beliefs in moralizing and punitive gods decrease local favoritism and increase resource-sharing with distant co-religionists, by providing data related to local (low or non-moralizing) supernatural agents.

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