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Weathering the Storm: Supernatural belief and cooperation in an insecure world

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    Anonymous Contributors

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Description: Societies have countless cultural adaptations to promote and sustain the cooperation, but how do we balance multiple belief systems? This study uses an experimental dictator game on food resources among villagers on Yasawa Island, Fiji, to examine this balance. Christian and traditional beliefs promote different expectations about local and distant others. Participants were reminded of insecurity by recalling a recent destructive cyclone and uncertainty about resources (½ reminded before, ½ after the game). This insecurity manipulation had no impact on allocations, but Christian and Traditional imagery primes were sensitive to individual resource uncertainty and beliefs about the Christian God’s punishment/ forgiveness. Textual analysis of interview answers suggest Christian vs. Traditional imagery may evoke different conceptions of God as either supportive (Christian) or authoritarian (Traditional). Results highlight belief content as key for sustaining different social support networks and traditional belief/ knowledge systems as a source of community resilience against natural disasters.

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