On how religions could accidentally incite lies and violence: folktales as a cultural transmitter

Palgrave Communications 6 (1):82 (2020)
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Folklore has a critical role as a cultural transmitter, all the while being a socially accepted medium for the expressions of culturally contradicting wishes and conducts. In this study of Vietnamese folktales, through the use of Bayesian multilevel modeling and the Markov chain Monte Carlo technique, we offer empirical evidence for how the interplay between religious teachings (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism) and deviant behaviors (lying and violence) could affect a folktale’s outcome. The findings indicate that characters who lie and/or commit violent acts tend to have bad endings, as intuition would dictate, but when they are associated with any of the above Three Teachings, the final endings may vary. Positive outcomes are seen in cases where characters associated with Confucianism lie and characters associated with Buddhism act violently. The results supplement the worldwide literature on discrepancies between folklore and real-life conduct, as well as on the contradictory human behaviors vis-à-vis religious teachings. Overall, the study highlights the complexity of human decision-making, especially beyond the folklore realm.

Author Profiles

Minh-Hoang Nguyen
Phenikaa University
Quan-Hoang Vuong
Phenikaa University
Manh-Toan Ho
Phenikaa University


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