Are Big Gods a big deal in the emergence of big groups?

Religion, Brain and Behavior 5 (4):266-274 (2015)
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In Big Gods, Norenzayan (2013) presents the most comprehensive treatment yet of the Big Gods question. The book is a commendable attempt to synthesize the rapidly growing body of survey and experimental research on prosocial effects of religious primes together with cross-cultural data on the distribution of Big Gods. There are, however, a number of problems with the current cross-cultural evidence that weaken support for a causal link between big societies and certain types of Big Gods. Here we attempt to clarify these problems and, in so doing, correct any potential misinterpretation of the cross-cultural findings, provide new insight into the processes generating the patterns observed, and flag directions for future research.

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Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University


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