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  1. Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in AustronesiaWatts, Joseph - Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2015 - 4 Hypotheses

    The authors investigate whether moralizing high gods and, more generally, supernatural punishment precede, sustain, or follow political complexity. The cultural traits at hand are mapped onto phylogenetic trees representing the descent and relatedness of 96 Austronesian cultures.

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  2. Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societiesWatts, Joseph - Nature, 2016 - 6 Hypotheses

    The social control hypothesis suggests that ritual human sacrifice may have played an important role in the evolution of social stratification, functioning to legitimize class-based power distinctions by pairing displays of ultimate authority with supernatural justifications. Authors test this hypothesis about human sacrifice with a phylogenetic analysis of 93 Austronesian cultures.

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  3. Pulotu: Database of Austronesian Supernatural Beliefs and PracticesWatts, Joseph - PLOS One, 2015 - 1 Hypotheses

    The researchers introduce the Pulotu database to readers, reviewing its function and role in future research. Researchers demonstrate the utility of the database by testing for headhunting cross-culturally. Findings include the presence of headhunting practices across proto-Austronesian cultures.

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  4. Christianity spread faster in small, politically structures societiesWatts, Joseph - Nature Human Behaviour, 2018 - 4 Hypotheses

    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.

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  5. Cultural macroevolution mattersGray, Russell D. - PNAS, 2017 - 3 Hypotheses

    Researchers sampled 106 Austronesian societies from the Pulotu database to study the way political complexity evolves in relation to religious beliefs and practices. Specifically, they attempt to test the causal theory that supernatural punishment played a causal role in the emergence of large, complex societies. They use phylogenetic models to control for Galton's Problem in testing the supernatural punishment hypothesis in an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing cross-cultural datasets in evaluating evolutionary change in human social organization.

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  6. Coevolution of landesque capital intensive agriculture and sociopolitical hierarchySheehan, Oliver - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2018 - 3 Hypotheses

    Using phylogenetic methods, this research examines the relationship between landesque capital intensive agriculture ("permanent changes to landscape, such as construction of terraces and irrigation canals"(3631)) , political complexity, and social stratification amongst 155 Austronesian-speaking societies. Researchers attempted to find an underlying causality between the above mentioned variables, which have already been shown to be cross-culturally related. Results of statistical testing are most consistent with their being no clear causal link between the tested variables. The researchers claim this demonstrates social complexity and the multifaceted nature of cultural evolution.

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  7. Emotion semantics show both cultural variation and universal structureJackson, Joshua Conrad - Science, 2019 - 3 Hypotheses

    Researchers looked at the meaning of various emotion concepts, 'emotion semantics' in an attempt to determine the patterns and processes behind meaning cross-culturally. They used maps of colexification patterns (where semantically related concepts are named with the same word), adjusted Rand indices (ARIs) which indicated the similarities of two community's network structures, and various psychophysiological dimensions to test relationships and patterns of variability /structure in emotion semantics. These methods shed light on the underlying mechanisms behind emotions, both their words and their meanings in languages across the world. Their findings show substantial difference in language families and relationships between geographic proximity of language families and subsequent variation in emotion colexification tied to an evolutionary relationship, while also finding cultural universals in emotion colexification networks with languages primarily differentiating emotions on the basis of valence and activation.

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