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Academic Articles

Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Bulbulia, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (Submitted). Christianity spread faster in small politically structured societies.

Sheehan, O., Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (Submitted). The coevolution of intensive agriculture and socio-political hierarchy.

Gray, R.D., & Watts, J. (2017). Cultural macroevolution matters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(30), 7846-7852.

Bulbulia, J., Fraser, G., Watts, J., Gray, R.D. (2017). Can honest signaling theory clarify religion’s role in the evolution of social inequality? Religion, Brain & Behavior, 7(4), 285-288.

Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (2016). Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies. Nature, 532(7598), 228-231.

Watts, J. Bulbulia, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (2016). Clarity and Causality Needed in Claims about Big Gods (Commentary). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39, 41-42.

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.

Atkinson, Q., Latham, A., & Watts, J. (2014). Are big gods a big deal in the emergence of big groups? Religion, Brain & Behaviour, 5(4), 266-274.

Low, J., & Watts, J. (2013). Attributing false-beliefs about object identity is a signature blindspot in humans’ efficient mind-reading system. Psychological Science, 24(3), 305-311.


Book Chapters

Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (In Press). Did ritual human sacrifice help build and sustain social inequality? Empirical Studies in the Cognitive Science of Religion (Ed. D.J. Slone). Bloomsbury Academic.

Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Bulbulia, J. (In Press). The New Collaborative Scientific Study of Religious History.


Articles for a General Audience

Purzycki, B.G., & Watts, J. (In Press). Reinvigorating the comparative, cooperative ethnographic science of religion.

Watts, J. (2016). How human sacrifice helped to enforce social inequality. Aeon.

Watts, J. (2016). The Function of Human Sacrifice in Ancient Societies. The Conversation, This View of Life and IFL Science.

Watts, J. (2015). Did Fear In Supernatural Punishment Build Complex Societies? This View of Life.


Selected Media Coverage

Nature. How human sacrifice propped up the social order. By Philip Ball. Re-posted in Scientific American.

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.

Additional media coverage here.