Supernatural explanations across 114 societies are more common for natural than social phenomena

Nature Human Behavior Vol/Iss. Online only Nature Published In Pages: 1-14
By Jackson, Joshua Conrad, Dillion, Danica, Bastian, Brock, Watts, Joseph, Buckner, William, DiMaggio, Nicholas, Gray, Kurt


The article examines whether cultural groups tend to use supernatural beliefs more to explain natural phenomena or social phenomena. Analysis of ethnographic text from 114 diverse societies reveals that supernatural explanations are more common for natural phenomena, consistent with the theory that humans tend to perceive intent and agency in the natural world. However, supernatural explanations of social phenomena were more prevalent in urbanized societies with greater social complexity and anonymity. The study highlights how people use supernatural beliefs to explain their world and how this varies across small-scale and urbanized communities.

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:jacob.kalodner