The dead may kill you: Do ancestor spirit beliefs promote cooperation in traditional small-scale societies

The Journal of Cognition and Culture Vol/Iss. 1 Brill Published In Pages: ??
By White, Claire , Marin, Maya , Fessler, Daniel M.T.


Using 57 cultures from the Human Relations Area Files database, this paper examines the function and effectiveness of the belief of punitive ancestors in small-scale societies. The authors found that belief in dangerous ancestral entities is widespread and common and that harm is preventable through ritualized mortuary practices. The authors concluded that the fear of ancestral spirits did not promote social cooperation or inhibit self-interest behavior, contrary to the supernatural punishment hypothesis.

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:danielle.russell stefania.becerralavado