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  1. The economic origins of the evil eye beliefGershman, Boris - Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2015 - 5 Hypotheses

    The author analyzes 76 societies synchronically, positing that the evil eye belief functions as a useful heuristic and prosocial/cohesive element in weakly-institutionalized societies with significant wealth inequality; in particular, the evil eye belief is found to be more prevalent in agro-pastoral societies where material wealth is vulnerable and plays a dominant role in subsistence economy.

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  2. Witchcraft beliefs and the erosion of social capital: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and BeyondGershman, Boris - Journal of Development Economics, 2016 - 11 Hypotheses

    In this article, the author seeks to understand the effect of witchcraft beliefs (both personal and regional) on various measures of social capital. Through empirical tests, the author concludes that witchcraft beliefs are robustly associated with anti-social attitudes in 19 Sub-Saharan African countries. Specifically, they find that witchcraft and other supernatural beliefs significantly affect levels of both generalized trust and trust for people of other religions. They also find that these attitudes are present among second-generation immigrants to Europe who originate from these countries. The worldwide Standard Cross-Cultural Sample is also used to examine relationships between witchcraft, mistrust, and other anti-social behaviors.

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  3. Headhunting and Warfare: Evidence from AustronesiaGershman, Boris - , 2023 - 1 Hypotheses

    Why did headhunting- the practice of taking human heads for ritualistic reasons- emerge in many societies? Through phylogenetic comparative analyses of Austronesian societies, the authors find that headhunting developed as a cultural response to frequent inter-tribal conflict and warfare. When warfare declined, the frequency of headhunting did as well.

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