The Socio-religious Brain: A Developmental Model

Daniel N. Finkel, Paul Swartwout and Richard Sosis

in Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264522
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734724 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Socio-religious Brain: A Developmental Model

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Evolutionary approaches to religion and the social brain hypothesis are ripe for functional integration. One conceptual link for such integration lies in recognizing the artificially imposed distinction between religion and most other aspects of culture found in band-level societies. This chapter argues that throughout most of human evolution, religion has organized the patterns of belief and behaviour in which the social brain operates. Religious beliefs, myths, symbols and rituals are the means by which emotional bonding, enculturation and identification with an in-group occur. The chapter presents a developmental account of socio-religious enculturation in order to clarify the unique role religion plays in social cognition. It proposes that the particulars of religious systems are introduced and practised during childhood, sealed in adolescence, reinforced throughout reproductive adulthood and transmitted by post-reproductive adults.

Keywords: religion; social brain; functional integration; human evolution; emotional bonding; enculturation

Chapter.  9646 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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