Journal article

Explaining illness with evil: pathogen prevalence fosters moral vitalism

Brock Bastian, Christin-Melanie Vauclair, Steve Loughnan, Paul Bain, Ashwini Ashokkumar, Maja Becker, Michal Bilewicz, Emma Collier-Baker, Carla Crespo, Paul W Eastwick, Ronald Fischer, Malte Friese, Angel Gomez, Valeschka M Guerra, Jose Luis Castellanos Guevara, Katja Hanke, Nic Hooper, Li-Li Huang, Junqi Shi, Minoru Karasawa Show all

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | ROYAL SOC | Published : 2019

Abstract

Pathogens represent a significant threat to human health leading to the emergence of strategies designed to help manage their negative impact. We examined how spiritual beliefs developed to explain and predict the devastating effects of pathogens and spread of infectious disease. Analysis of existing data in studies 1 and 2 suggests that moral vitalism (beliefs about spiritual forces of evil) is higher in geographical regions characterized by historical higher levels of pathogens. Furthermore, drawing on a sample of 3140 participants from 28 countries in study 3, we found that historical higher levels of pathogens were associated with stronger endorsement of moral vitalistic beliefs. Further..

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