Material insecurity predicts greater commitment to moralistic and less commitment to local deities: a cross-cultural investigation

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Authors

BAIMEL Adam APICELLA Coren ATKINSON Quentin BOLYANATZ Alex COHEN Emma HANDLEY Carla HENRICH Joseph KUNDTOVÁ KLOCOVÁ Eva LANG Martin LESOGOROL Carolyn MATHEW Sarah MCNAMARA Rita MOYA Cristina NORENZAYAN Ara PLACEK Caitlyn D SOLER Monserrat VARDY Thomas WEIGEL Jonathan WILLARD Aiyana XYGALATAS Dimitris PURZYCKI Benjamin

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

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Web https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2153599X.2021.2006287
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2021.2006287
Keywords Religious commitment; existential insecurity; moralistic gods; cross-cultural
Description The existential security hypothesis predicts that in the absence of more successful secular institutions, people will be attracted to religion when they are materially insecure. Most assessments, however, employ data sampled at a state-level with a focus on world religions. Using individual-level data collected in societies of varied community sizes with diverse religious traditions including animism, shamanism, polytheism, and monotheism, we conducted a systematic cross-cultural test (N?=?1820; 14 societies) of the relationship between material insecurity (indexed by food insecurity) and religious commitment (indexed by both beliefs and practices). Moreover, we examined the relationship between material security and individuals’ commitment to two types of deities (moralistic and local), thus providing the first simultaneous test of the existential security hypothesis across co-existing traditions. Our results indicate that while material insecurity is associated with greater commitment to moralistic deities, it predicts less commitment to local deity traditions.
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