Christianity spread faster in small, politically structures societies

Nature Human Behaviour Vol/Iss. 2 Nature Published In Pages: 559-564
By Watts, Joseph, Sheehan, Oliver, Bulbulia, Joseph, Gray, Russell D. , Atkinson, Quentin D.


The present study examines 70 Austronesian cultures to test whether political hierarchy, population size, and social inequality have been influential in the conversion of populations to Christianity. Cultural isolation and year of missionary arrival are control variables. Using phylogenetic generalized least squares (PGLS), the researchers test the effect of the three predictor variables on conversion to Christianity and also conduct a multivariate analysis with all variables. The results do not offer support for what is expected by top-down and bottom-up theories of conversion but instead for the general dynamics of cultural transmission.


Austronesian refers to a language-based grouping of cultures with Taiwanese origins that then spread south to Aotearoa (New Zealand), east to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and west to Madagascar.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Pulotu databaseResearcher's Own

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