Religious Cognition

Project summary: This project is aimed at uncovering the cognitive biases that facilitate the development, maintenance, and transmission of religious beliefs and behaviors.



Funding: John Templeton Foundation, European Science Research Council, and Center of Theological Inquiry




Purzycki, Benjamin and Richard Sosis. Resistance, Subversion, and the Absence of Religion in Traditional Societies. In The Cambridge History of Atheism, eds. Michael Ruse and Stephen Bullivant, Cambridge University Press.
2022 Sosis, Richard, John Shaver, Benjamin Grant Purzycki, and Jordan Kiper Soul Mates? Conflicts and Complementarities in the Evolutionary and Cognitive Sciences of Religion. In Oxford Handbook for the Cognitive Science of Religion, ed. Justin Barrett, pp. 349-374. Oxford University Press.
2019 Purzycki, Benjamin and Richard Sosis What do People Think Omniscient Agents Know? In The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Key Empirical Studies, eds. Jason Slone and William McCorkle, pp. 25-32. New York: Bloomsbury Academic Press.
2017 Sosis, Richard The road not taken: possible paths for the cognitive science of religion, in Religion Explained? The Cognitive Science of Religion after 25 years, eds. L. Martin and D. Wiebe, pp. 155-167. London: Bloomsbury Press.
2015 Purzycki, Benjamin G., Jordan Kiper, John Shaver, Daniel Finkel, and Richard Sosis Religion, in Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, eds. R.A. Scott and S.M. Kosslyn, pp. 1-16. New York: Wiley.
2013 Sosis, Richard, Wesley Wildman, and Patrick McNamara On the Naturalness of Religion. Religion, Brain & Behavior 3: 89-90.
2012 Purzycki, Benjamin, Daniel Finkel, John Shaver, Nathan Wales, Adam B. Cohen, and Richard Sosis What does God Know? Supernatural Agents’ Perceived Access to Socially Strategic and Nonstrategic Information. Cognitive Science 36: 846-869.
2011  Purzycki, Benjamin and Richard Sosis Our Gods: Variation in Supernatural Minds, in Essential Building Blocks of Human Nature, eds. Ulrich Frey, C. Stormer, K.P. Willfuhr, pp. 77- 93, New York: Springer.
2010 Finkel, Daniel, Paul Swartwout, and Richard Sosis The Socio-Religious Brain: A Developmental Model, Eds. R. Dunbar, C. Gamble, J. Gowlett. Proceedings of the British Academy 158: 287-312.
2009 Sosis, Richard The Adaptationist-Byproduct Debate on the Evolution of Religion: Five Misunderstandings of the Adaptationist Program. Journal of Cognition and Culture 9: 315-332.
2009 Purzycki, Benjamin and Richard Sosis The Religious System as Adaptive: Cognitive Flexibility, Public Displays, and Acceptance, in The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior,eds. Eckart Voland and Wulf Schiefenhovel, pp. 243-256, New York: Springer-Verlag Publishers.
2005  Alcorta, Candace and Richard Sosis Ritual, Emotion, and Sacred Symbols: The Evolution of Religion as an Adaptive Complex. Human Nature 16: 323-359.