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How cultural learning and cognitive biases shape religious beliefs
Current Opinion in Psychology  (IF5.717),  Pub Date : 2021-08-01, DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2020.07.033
Cindel JM White, Adam Baimel, Ara Norenzayan

What explains the ubiquity and diversity of religions around the world? Widespread cognitive tendencies, including mentalizing and intuitive thinking, offer part of the explanation for recurrent features of religion, and individual differences in religious commitments. However, vast diversity in religious beliefs points to the importance of the cultural context in which religious beliefs are transmitted. Cultural evolutionary theory provides the basis of a unified explanation for how cognition and culture interact to shape religious beliefs, in ways that are uniquely adapted to local ecological pressures. These insights lay the groundwork for future research regarding how cultural learning interacts with other evolved aspects of human psychology to generate the recurrent and the diverse forms of religious commitments observed around the world.