Publication details

Hazard Precaution: Examining the Possible Adaptive Value of Ritualized Behavior

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LANG Martin CHVAJA Radim

Year of publication 2023
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The near- omnipresence of religious systems across the globe and throughout human history has led researchers to hypothesize that religious systems fulfil important adaptive functions in their specific niches (Lang & Kundt, 2020; Sosis, 2017, 2019).1 Two functions have been of particular interest: promoting group coordination and cooperation and promoting positive effects on individual health and survival while a third major function of religious systems, promotion of reproduction, gradually gains attention (see Van Slyke, ch. 7 this volume; Shaver et al., 2020). Alongside beliefs in various superhuman agents and other components of religious systems, a major role in facilitating these functions appears to be played by ritual behavior, both in its individual and group forms (Purzycki & Arakchaa, 2013; Sosis, 2004; Xygalatas et al., 2019, 2013). In this chapter, we examine whether ritual behavior, in interaction with other evolved cognitive- behavioral systems, positively affects one of the three main outputs of religious systems— the promotion of individual health and survival— and speculate about ritual’s tentative adaptive value.
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