General Research Interests:
Cognitive approaches to religion, cognition and culture, cultural transmission, ritual, emotion, social learning mechanisms.
Ritualized action is a pervasive aspect of individual and collective human behavior. A major question for psychological and anthropological research concerns the mechanisms by which ritualized behavior is learned and transmitted. Based upon a current research project, being carried out by Harvey Whitehouse and Cristine Legare (UT Austin), investigating the possible cues mediating the acquisition and transmission of ritualized behavior, I am specifically exploring implied danger/threat cues as an important factor influencing the development of children’s imitation and adoption of ritualized behavior through effects on processes of attention, motivation and memory. The current work is expected to contribute to research on social learning mechanisms, causal reasoning, cultural transmission, normative learning and the acquisition of social conventions that give rise to behavioral in-group identity markers and social cohesion.