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


Supernatural explanations will be more common for natural phenomena than social phenomena.


96% of societies in the sample had common supernatural explanations for disease, 92% for natural causes of food scarcity and 90% for natural hazards. By contrast, 67% of societies had common supernatural explanations of warfare, 82% for murder and 26% for theft.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Phylogenetically adjusted two-tailed paired samples t-testsSupportedp<.0.001UNKNOWNUNKNOWN