Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-qlrfm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T21:39:11.409Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Prosociality and religion: History and experimentation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2016

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi*
Psychology Department, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel.


Norenzayan et al. are praised for choosing to deal with significant questions in the understanding of religion. They are then criticized for refusing to define religion and for relying on problematic theoretical concepts. The authors discuss Abrahamic religions as the best-known prosocial religions, but the evidence shows that the case does not fit their conceptual framework. Finally, an extension of the authors’ ideas about the meaning of priming effects is proposed.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bader, C., Mencken, F. C. & Parker, J. (2006) Where have all the communes gone? Factors influencing the success and failure of religious and non-religious communes. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 45:7385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beit-Hallahmi, B., ed. (2010) Psychoanalysis and theism: Critical reflections on the Grünbaum thesis. Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
Beit-Hallahmi, B. (2015) Psychological perspectives on religion and religiosity. Routledge.Google Scholar
Berg, H. & Rollens, S. (2008) The historical Muhammad and the historical Jesus: A comparison of scholarly reinventions and reinterpretations. Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 37:271–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harrell, A. (2012) Do religious cognitions promote prosociality? Rationality and Society 24:463–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoffmann, R. (2013) The experimental economics of religion. Journal of Economic Surveys 27:813–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ma-Kellams, C. & Blascovich, J. (2013) Does “science” make you moral? The effects of priming science on moral judgments and behavior. PLOS ONE 8(3):e57989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ruffle, B. J. & Sosis, R. (2006) Cooperation and the in-group-out-group bias: A field test on Israeli kibbutz members and city residents. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 60:147–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosis, R. (2000) Religion and intragroup cooperation: Preliminary results of a comparative analysis of utopian communities. Cross-Cultural Research 34:7087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosis, R. & Alcorta, C. (2003) Signaling, solidarity, and the sacred: The evolution of religious behavior. Evolutionary Anthropology 12:264–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosis, R. & Bressler, E. (2003) Cooperation and commune longevity: A test of the costly signaling theory of religion. Cross-Cultural Research 37:211–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosis, R. & Ruffle, B. J. (2003) Religious ritual and cooperation: Testing for a relationship on Israeli religious and secular kibbutzim. Current Anthropology 44:713–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
White, A. D. (1896/1993) A history of the warfare of science with theology in Christendom. Prometheus Books. (Original work published in 1896.)Google Scholar
Wright, R. (2009) The evolution of god. Little, Brown.Google Scholar