War increases religiosity

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Joseph Henrich, Canadian Inst Adv Res, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
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  • Michal Bauer, Acad Sci Czech Republ, Czech Academy of Sciences, Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Econ Inst
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  • Alessandra Cassar, Univ San Francisco, University of San Francisco, Dept Econ
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  • Julie Chytilova, Acad Sci Czech Republ, Czech Academy of Sciences, Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Econ Inst
  • ,
  • Benjamin Grant Purzycki

Does the experience of war increase people's religiosity? Much evidence supports the idea that particular religious beliefs and ritual forms can galvanize social solidarity and motivate in-group cooperation, thus facilitating a wide range of cooperative behaviours including-but not limited to-peaceful resistance and collective aggression. However, little work has focused on whether violent conflict, in turn, might fuel greater religious participation. Here, we analyse survey data from 1,709 individuals in three post-conflict societies-Uganda, Sierra Leone and Tajikistan. The nature of these conflicts allows us to infer, and statistically verify, that individuals were quasirandomly afflicted with different intensities of war experience-thus potentially providing a natural experiment. We then show that those with greater exposure to these wars were more likely to participate in Christian or Muslim religious groups and rituals, even several years after the conflict. The results are robust to a wide range of control variables and statistical checks and hold even when we compare only individuals from the same communities, ethnic groups and religions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Human Behavior
Volume3
Issue2
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
ISSN2397-3374
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • TERROR MANAGEMENT, SUPERNATURAL PUNISHMENT, GROUP COMPETITION, BEHAVIOR, UNCERTAINTY, VIOLENCE, BELIEF, INTERGROUP, CONFLICT, DISPLAYS

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