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Is reasoning about religious ritual tethered to ordinary, nonreligious human reasoning about actions? E. Thomas Lawson and Robert N. McCauley’s ritual form hypothesis (rfh) constitutes a cognitive approach to religious ritual – an explanatory theory that suggests people use ordinary human cognition to make specific predictions about ritual properties, relatively independent of cultural or religious particulars. Few studies assess the credibility of rfh and further evidence is needed to generalize its predictions across cultures. Towards this end, we assessed culturally Chinese “special patient” rituals in Singapore. Our findings strongly support rfh predictions for special patient ritual repeatability, reversibility, sensory pageantry and emotionality.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture