The evolution of religious misbelief

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):531 (2009)
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Abstract

Inducing religious thoughts increases prosocial behavior among strangers in anonymous contexts. These effects can be explained both by behavioral priming processes as well as by reputational mechanisms. We examine whether belief in moralizing supernatural agents supplies a case for what McKay & Dennett (M&D) call evolved misbelief, concluding that they might be more persuasively seen as an example of culturally evolved misbelief

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