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Good Gods Almighty

A Report Concerning Divine Attributes from a Global Sample

Justin L. Barrett, R. Daniel Shaw, Joseph Pfeiffer, Jonathan Grimes and Gregory S. Foley


If “Big Gods” evolved in part because of their ability to morally regulate groups of people who cannot count on kin or reciprocal altruism to get along (Norenzayan, 2013), then powerful gods would tend to be good gods. If the mechanism for this cooperation is some kind of fear of supernatural punishment (Johnson & Bering, 2006), then we may expect that mighty gods tend to be punishing gods. The present study is a statistical analysis of superhuman being concepts from 20 countries on five continents to explore whether the goodness of a god is related to its mightiness. Gods that looked more like the God of classical theism and gods that were low in anthropomorphism were more likely to be regarded as morally good and to be the target of religious practices. Mighty gods were not, however, especially likely to punish or to be a “high god.”

Nikolay R. Rachev and Miglena Petkova


Dual-processes theories of cognition implicitly assume universality of the human mind. However, research has shown that large-scale differences exist in thinking styles across cultures. Thereby, the universality of the effects found in Western samples remains an open empirical question. Here, we explored whether effects predicted by prospect theory, such as the framing effect, would be observed in a sample of 312 Bulgarian students. Overall, the size of the framing effect was smaller than in the original studies. Most notably, we failed to reproduce the framing effect in the famous Asian Disease problem, using a rating response format. In a between-subjects design, decision- making performance was completely independent of university admission grades. We propose that studying the size of the effects across cultures is needed in order to establish the effects’ level of universality. More broadly, we suggest ways in which knowledge of cultural settings can help elaborate or test dual-process predictions.

Makena J. Easker and Allen H. Keniston


Research has shown that minimally counterintuitive concepts (MCI) are more memorable than concepts that are simply bizarre. However, this disparity may exist only in studies using cross-cultural samples. To test the impact of bizarreness on culturally homogeneous populations, we read a fictional narrative to 33 college-age students at a Midwestern university. This narrative featured 18 sets of target items – six which were intuitive, six which were counterintuitive, and six which were bizarre. After hearing the story, experimenters administered a written recall task. As hypothesized, students did not differ in their recall of counterintuitive or bizarre target items. Therefore, we propose a minimally distinctive model of memorability, encompassing both counterintuitiveness and bizarreness. This model may help us better understand the memorability of expectation violations, especially those within religious stories.

Michaela Porubanova


Minimal counterintuitiveness and its automatic processing has been suggested as the explanation of persistence and transmission of cultural ideas. This purported automatic processing remains relatively unexplored. We manipulated encoding strategy to assess the persistence of memory for different types of expectation violation. Participants viewed concepts including two types of expectation violation (schema-level or domain-level) or no violation under three different encoding conditions: in the shallow condition participants focused on the perceptual attributes of the concepts, a deep condition probed their semantic meaning, and intentional remembering condition. Participants’ recall was tested immediately as well as 2 weeks later. Our findings showed the greatest memory enhancement for schema-level violations regardless of the encoding condition, while the memory for domain-level violations improved over time. These results suggest two distinct memory patterns for different types of violations, and illustrate the importance of elaborative processes in memory consolidation especially for violations to our expectations.

Turning Water into Wine

Young Children’s Conception of the Impossible

Consuelo Orozco-Giraldo and Paul L. Harris


Young children judge that violations of ordinary, causal constraints are impossible. Yet children’s religious beliefs typically include the assumption that such violations can occur via divine agency in the form of miracles. We conducted two studies to examine this potential conflict. In Study 1, we invited 5- and 6-year-old Colombian children attending either a secular or a religious school to judge what is and is not possible. Children made their judgments either following a minimal prompt or following a reminder of God’s extraordinary powers. Irrespective of their education, and whether or not they had been reminded of God’s extraordinary powers, children systematically judged violations of ordinary, causal constraints to be impossible. In Study 2, we asked if more extensive reminders of God’s special powers would prompt religious children to say that the impossible can happen. Five- and 6-year-old Colombian children attending either a secular or a religious school were presented with narratives in which the protagonist desired an ordinarily impossible outcome. In half the stories, the protagonist prayed to God for the desired outcome. Irrespective of education and of whether the protagonist prayed, children systematically concluded that the desired outcome would not occur and justified that conclusion by reference to ordinary causal constraints. Nevertheless, in a minority of their replies children did assert that violations of ordinary causality are possible. Overall, irrespective of their religious education, young children judge that events rarely deviate from their natural course; only occasionally do they acknowledge exceptions.

Gentry R. McCreary and Joshua W. Schutts


Hazing behaviors as a part of group initiations have been theorized to contribute to a sense of group solidarity, to ensure loyalty and commitment of group members, to teach group-relevant skills and attitudes to group members, and to reinforce the social hierarchy within groups. In a survey of members of an international college fraternity (n=2833), researchers propose and test a four-dimensional model of hazing motivation. Using exploratory factor analysis, the proposed four-factor model explains 74 percent of the overall variance and confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated acceptable model fit. Correlation and regression analysis suggested that social dominance- motivated hazing is strongly associated with hazing tolerance, moral disengagement, and a variety of measures related to organizational commitment and attachment.

Alejandro A. Vallega

Jason M. Wirth

Exordio: Towards a Hermeneutics of Liberation

Understanding Liberatory Thought Out of the Movement of Effected Historical Consciousness in Hans-Georg Gadamer

Alejandro A. Vallega


Liberatory thought in Latin American philosophy leads to the question of the reinterpretation of historical time consciousness. In the following pages I first introduce the challenge as articulated out of Latin American thought, particularly with reference to Enrique Dussel and Aníbal Quijano, and then I develop a reinterpretation of historical time consciousness in its happening as understood through Hans-Georg Gadamer’s discussion of effected historical consciousness (Wirkungsgeschichtliches Bewußtsein) in Truth and Method. As already marked by this trajectory, this essay is not comparative, but, through a dialogue with these thinkers, seeks to rethink the temporalizing-historical movement that is historical consciousness as a possible path to engaging in and understanding liberatory philosophy.