Cigarettes for the dead : effects of sorcery beliefs on parochial prosociality in Mauritius

Authors

KUNDTOVÁ KLOCOVÁ Eva LANG Martin MAŇO Peter KUNDT Radek XYGALATAS Dimitrios

Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Religion, Brain & Behavior
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Web https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2021.2006286
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2021.2006286
Keywords Sorcery; magic; ancestor worship; parochial prosociality; economic games
Description Research testing evolutionary models of religious morality shows that supernatural beliefs in moralizing gods positively affect prosociality. However, the effects of beliefs related to local supernatural agents have not been extensively explored. Drawing from a Mauritian Hindu sample, we investigated the effects of beliefs and practices related to two different types of local supernatural agents (spirits of the deceased unconcerned with morality) on preferential resources allocation to receivers differing in geographical and social closeness to participants. These spirits are ambiguously linked to either ancestor worship or sorcery practice. Previous studies suggested that sorcery beliefs erode social bonds and trust, but such research is often limited by social stigma and missing relevant comparison with other beliefs. To overcome these limitations, we used nuanced free-list data to discriminate between the two modes of spirit beliefs and tested how each contributes to decision-making in economic games (Random Allocation, Dictator). Expressing sorcery beliefs together with performing rituals addressed to the spirits was associated with greater probability of rule-breaking for selfish/parochial outcomes in the Random Allocation Game (compared to ancestor worship). No difference in money allocations was found in the Dictator Game.
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