Universal cognitive mechanisms explain the cultural success of bloodletting

Evolution and Human Behavior Vol/Iss. 36 Elsevier Published In Pages: 303-312
By Miton, Helen, Cladiere, Nicolas, Mercier, Hugo


Authors test three explanations as to why bloodletting is such a near-universal therapeutic cultural practice in "the west." Using references from HRAF's database which are then re-coded for colocalization, practitioner, and cultural explanation, they find that bloodletting is practiced therapeutically by many unrelated cultures worldwide; it is heterogeneous in both form and cultural significance across the globe while still fairly ubiquitous in general. Authors posit that the widespread propensity toward bloodletting in human populations is explained by the universality of affecting/affected cognitive mechanisms. After analyzing cultural data in eHRAF, authors incorporated experiments and modeling that further supported this conclusion.


Used 102 references from 60 cultures in HRAF's database.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
eHRAF World CulturesResearchers' ownData on bloodletting
Probability Sample Files (PSF)Researchers' ownSample of cultures analyzed

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:Christina Carolus erik.ringen jacob.kalodner