Ph.D. titled “The Cultural Evolution of Religion: A Phylogenetic Approach.” School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
B.Sc. Honours (1st Class) in Psychology. University of Auckland, New Zealand.
B.Sc. in Psychology and Philosophy. Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Sheehan, O., Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (2018). Coevolution of landesque capital intensive agriculture and sociopolitical hierarchy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(14), 3628-3633.
Watts, J., Greenhill, S., Atkinson, Q., Currie, T., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R. (2015). Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in Austronesia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biology, 282(1804), 20142.
Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Greenhill, S.J., Gomes-Ng, S., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (2015). Pulotu: Database of Austronesian Supernatural Beliefs and Practices. PLoS ONE, 10(9), e0136783.
Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (In Press). Did ritual human sacrifice help build and sustain social inequality? In D.J. Slone & W.W. McCorkle Jr. (Eds.) The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Key Empirical Studies. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic.
Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Bulbulia, J. (In Press). The New Collaborative Scientific Study of Religious History. In A. K. (Ed.) Evolution, Cognition, and the History of Religion: A New Synthesis. Leiden: Brill.
Articles for a General Audience
Pulotu: The Database of Austronesian Supernatural Beliefs and Practices (Talk). Cultural Evolution Society Conference. Jena, Germany.
Greater political hierarchy predicts faster conversion to Christianity (Talk). European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Conference. Paris, France.
Pulotu, the Database of Pacific Religions: Construction and Data Analysis (Talk). Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. Stanford, United States of America.
Announcing Pulotu! A Public Database of Pacific Supernatural Belief and Practice (Talk). World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Erfurt, Germany.
The Social Control Hypothesis of Human Sacrifice (Talk). Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, University of Oxford. Oxford, United Kingdom.
The Function of Human Sacrifice in Austronesia (Talk). Human Behaviour and Evolution Society. Columbia, United States of America.
The Evolution of Religion (Talk). Ph.D. Seminar Series. Auckland, New Zealand.
Big Gods and Big Societies (Talk). In-House Convention. Auckland, New Zealand.
The Evolution of Moralising Gods and Political Complexity (Talk). Allan Wilson Center Conference. Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Awards, Grants & Scholarships
Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis. University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Co-investigator for the grant “Religion and the Social Brain” (TRT0153). Templeton Religion Trust.
University of Auckland Ph.D. Scholarship, New Zealand.
Summer Research Scholarship, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
2017. Lecturer and Tutor: Testing for Co-evolution with Pagel’s Discrete. Quantitative Methods Spring School (graduate and professional course), Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.
2017. Guest Lecturer: The Cultural Evolution of Religion. Life Sciences Kolleg (postgraduate course), German National Academic Foundation, Germany.
2015. Guest Lecturer: The Evolution of Religion. Evolution, Behaviour, and Cognition (undergraduate course), School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
2015. Guest Lecturer: Quantitative Coding of Religious Traits. Advanced Studies in Religion and Society (postgraduate course), School of Art History, Classics & Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
2014. Guest Lecturer: Supernatural Punishment in the Pacific. The World’s Religions (undergraduate course), School of Art History, Classics & Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
2013-2016. Graduate Teaching Assistant. Evolution, Behaviour, and Cognition (undergraduate course), School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Editorial, Research & Leadership Experience
Managed, oversaw and designed Pulotu, the database of Austronesian religion and culture.
Regional Editor for The Database of Religious History.
Fieldwork, Tanna Island, Vanuatu (26th June till the 24th July).
Fieldwork, Tanna Island, Vanuatu (11th March till the 14th April).
Selected Media Coverage
The Guardian. Study shows human sacrifice was less likely in more equal societies. By Tim Radford.
New York Times. Why Some Societies Practiced Ritual Human Sacrifice. By Tatiana Schlossberg.
Science. To foster complex societies, tell people a god is watching. By Lizzie Wade.
International Business Times. Belief in supernatural punishment not ‘big gods’ gave rise to complex societies. By Hannah Osborne.