Belief in gods, belief in databases : Evaluation of studying religious beliefs in anthropological databases


KOPPOVÁ Kateřina

Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In contrast to easily observable behavior, like participating in rituals, studying religious beliefs is fairly challenging. On the individual level, we have to rely on the truthfulness of respondents' statements or more subtle methods, such as implicit-association test or priming. These indirect techniques allow us to induce more subconscious beliefs while making them more salient and measurable. Unfortunately, using these methods for large-scale cross-cultural comparison is extremely resource consuming (time, energy, and money). However, over the last decades, we can observe a growing trend in creating and expanding electronic databases of cross-cultural material, e.g., eHRAF, D-PLACE, DRH, and Pulotu. Consequently, these databases enable us not only to study religious beliefs across various cultures worldwide but also across different times. Thus, such databases provide a valuable way for seeking and testing general patterns concerning religious beliefs. In my research, I explore whether different types of religious beliefs are associated with different types of prosocial behavior. Conceptualization and operationalization of terms such as gods, high gods, and moralizing gods are crucial in this context. Unfortunately, the inconsistent use of these terms and incautious work with pre-coded data can result in confusion or misinterpretation. To demonstrate this issue, I will summarize the specifics of pre-coded data in these databases and related research. Moreover, I will present my coding scheme and data and provide an overview of the strengths and limits of studying religious beliefs in anthropological databases.
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