Professor Harvey Whitehouse

Harvey Whitehouse

Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA)

Fellow of Magdalen College

The evolution of social complexity, the cognitive science of religion, experimental anthropology.

Harvey Whitehouse is the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant to test and develop his theory of “modes of religiosity". The modes theory proposes that the frequency and emotionality of rituals determines the scale and structure of religious organizations: low-frequency, highly arousing rituals bind together small but very cohesive groups of participants; high-frequency, less emotionally intense rituals create large anonymous communities that are more diffusely integrated. In recent years, Harvey Whitehouse’s work has expanded beyond religion to examine the role of rituals of all kinds in binding groups together and motivating inter-group competition, including warfare. This research has become increasingly global in reach with ongoing data collection now established at field sites in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Vanuatu, Brazil, USA, Spain, Cameroon, and Libya. Harvey Whitehouse’s lab group is the Centre for Anthropology and Mind and he is also a founding director, and the editor for ritual variables, of SESHAT: The Global History Databank.

Contact

Email: harvey.whitehouse@anthro.ox.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 274705
Personal website: http://www.harveywhitehouse.com/

Lab group: https://camoxford.org 

 

Harvey Whitehouse’s research and teaching covers a broad range of research topics and methods. His doctoral students and postdocs have successfully completed projects using methods as diverse as ethnographic fieldwork, carefully controlled experiments in both lab and field, field surveys, online surveys, database construction and analysis, semantic network analysis, brain imaging, and agent based modeling. Many now have permanent academic positions (e.g. at the University of Oxford, Royal Holloway University of London, Brunel University, Bath Spa University, Queen’s University Belfast, Auckland University, Aarhus University, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris) while others have tenure-track positions at a broad range of universities across North America and postdoc positions around the world. Harvey Whitehouse is always keen to hear from prospective research students interested in working on topics relevant to his current projects.

1995 Inside the Cult: religious innovation and transmission in Papua New Guinea, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 234pp, ISBN 0-19-827981-7 (cloth), 0-19-828051-3 (paper)

2000 Arguments and Icons: divergent modes of religiosity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 204pp, ISBN 0-19-823414-7 (cloth), 0-19-823415-5 (paper)

2001 (ed.) The Debated Mind: evolutionary psychology versus ethnography, Oxford:Berg, 229pp, ISBN 0-85-973427-8 (cloth), 0-85-973432-4 (paper)

2004 Modes of Religiosity: a cognitive theory of religious transmission, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 208pp, ISBN 0-7591-0614-2 (cloth), 0-7591-0615-0 (paper)

2004 with Laidlaw, James (eds.) Ritual and Memory: Towards a Comparative Anthropology of Religion, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 224pp, ISBN 0-7591-0616-9 (cloth), 0-7591-0617-7 (paper)

2004 with Martin, Luther H. (eds.) Theorizing Religions Past: Archaeology, History, and Cognition, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 256pp, ISBN 0-7591-0620-7 (cloth), 0-7591-0621-5 (paper)

2004 with Martin, Luther H.  (eds.) Implications of Cognitive Science for the Study of Religion, Special Issue of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol.16, No.3, ISSN 0943-3058 (print), 1570-0682 (online)

2005 with McCauley, Robert N. (eds.) The Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity, special issue of Journal of Cognition and Culture, Vol.5 Nos.1-2, ISSN 1567-7095 (print), 1568-5373 (online)

2005 with McCauley, Robert N. (eds.) Mind and Religion: Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 248pp, ISBN 0-7591-0618-5 (cloth), 0-7591-0619-3 (paper)

2005 with Martin, Luther H. (eds.) History, Memory, and Cognition, special issue of Historical Reflections/ Reflexions Historiques, Vol.31, No.2, ISSN 0315-7997

2007 with Laidlaw, James (eds.) Religion, Anthropology and Cognitive Science, Durham: Carolina Academic Press, ISBN 1-59460-107-0

Selected articles (2015-2017)

A full list of Harvey Whitehouse’s academic articles (including many in a downloadable pdf format) is provided here.

Whitehouse, Harvey, Jonathan Jong, Michael D. Buhrmester, Ángel Gómez, Brock Bastian, Christopher M. Kavanagh, Martha Newson, Miriam Matthews, Jonathan A. Lanman, Ryan McKay and Sergey Gavrilets (2017). The evolution of extreme cooperation via intense shared experiences. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/srep44292.

Rybanska, Veronika, Ryan McKay, Jonathan Jong, and Harvey Whitehouse (2017). Rituals improve children's ability to delay gratification. Child Development.

Peregrine, Peter, Joe Brewer, Michele Gelfand, Joshua Jackson, Ian MacDonald, Pete Richerson, Peter Turchin, Harvey Whitehouse, and David Sloan Wilson (2017). Grand Challenges for the Study of Cultural Evolution. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Nature Ecology & Evolution. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0070

Alexandra Vázquez, Ángel Gómez, Juan R. Ordoñana, William B. Swann & Harvey Whitehouse (2017): Sharing genes fosters identity fusion and altruism, Self and Identity. doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2017.1296887.

Watson-Jones, Rachel E., Harvey Whitehouse, and Cristine H. Legare (2016). In-group ostracism increases high fidelity imitation in early childhood. Psychological Science. Vol. 27(1) 34–42. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615607205

McKay, Ryan T., and Harvey Whitehouse (2016). Religion promotes a love for thy neighbor. But how big is the neighbourhood? (Commentary on Norenzayan et al.). Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 39. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X15000503

Wilson, David Sloan, Yasha Hartberg, Ian MacDonald, Jonathan A. Lanman, and Harvey Whitehouse (2016) The Nature of Religious Diversity: A Cultural Ecosystem Approach. Religion, Brain, and Behavior. DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2015. 1132243

Jamin Halberstadt, Jamin, Joshua Conrad Jackson, David Bilkey, Jonathan Jong, Harvey Whitehouse, Craig McNaughton, Stefanie Zollmann (2016). Incipient Social Groups: An Analysis via In-Vivo Behavioral Tracking. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0149880.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149880http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149880

Newson Martha, Michael D. Buhrmester, and Harvey Whitehouse (2016) Explaining Lifelong Loyalty: The Role of Identity Fusion and Self-Shaping Group Events. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160427. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160427

Francois, Pieter, Peter Turchin, Joseph Manning, Robert Brennan, Thomas Currie, Kevin Feeney, and Harvey Whitehouse (2016). "A Macroscope for Global History. Seshat: Global History Databank: a methodological overview. Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol.10, No.4.

Reddish, P., Tong, E. M. W., Jong, J., Lanman, J. A. and Whitehouse, H. (2016), Collective synchrony increases prosociality towards non-performers and outgroup members. Br. J. Soc. Psychol.. doi:10.1111/bjso.12165

Juan Jiménez, Ángel Gómez, Michael D. Buhrmester, Alexandra Vázquez, Harvey Whitehouse, William B. Swann, Jr. (2015). The Dynamic Identity Fusion Index (DIFI): A new continuous measure of identity fusion for Web-based questionnaires. Social Science Computer Review. DOI: 10.1177/0894439314566178

Legare, Cristine H., Nicole J. WenPatricia A. Herrmann, and Harvey Whitehouse (2015). Imitative flexibility and the development of cultural learning. Cognition. Vol 142: pp. 351-361. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.020

Turchin, Peter, Rob Brennan, Thomas E. Currie, Kevin C. Feeney, Pieter François, Daniel Hoyer, J. G. Manning, Arkadiusz Marciniak, Daniel Mullins, Alessio Palmisano, Peter Peregrine, Edward A. L. Turner, and Harvey Whitehouse (2015). Seshat: The Global History Databank. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution 6(1): 77-107.

Currie, Thomas E., Amy Bogaard, Rudolf Cesaretti, Neil R. Edwards, Pieter François, Phillip B. Holden, Daniel Hoyer, Andrey Korotayev, Joe Manning, Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia, Oluwole K. Oyebamiji, Cameron Petrie, Peter Turchin, Harvey Whitehouse, and Alice Williams (2015). Agricultural Productivity in Past Societies: Toward an Empirically Informed Model for Testing Cultural Evolutionary Hypotheses. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution 6(1): 24-56.

Salali, Gul Deniz, Harvey Whitehouse, and Michael E. Hochberg (2015). A Life-Cycle Model of Human Social Groups Produces a U-Shaped Distribution in Group Size. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138496. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138496

Gaviria, Elena, Carolina Ferreira, Mercedes Martínez, and Harvey Whitehouse (2015). Identity and the developmental origins of fusion: an exploratory approach / La identidad y los orígenes de la fusion en el desarrollo: un enfoque exploratorio. Revista de Psicología Social / International Journal of Social Psychology, 30(3), 531-62. DOI: 10.1080/02134748.2015.1065088

Jong, Jonathan, Harvey Whitehouse, Christopher Kavanagh, Justin Lane (2015). Shared Negative Experiences Lead to Identity Fusion via Personal Reflection. PloS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145611

Whitehouse, Harvey, Pieter François, and Peter Turchin (2015). The Role of Ritual in the Evolution of Social Complexity: Five predictions and a drum roll. Cliodynamics 6(2): 199-210. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4836f93g

Whitehouse, Harvey, Pieter François, and Peter Turchin (2015). Can there be a science of history? Response to commentaries on “The Role of Ritual in the Evolution of Social Complexity: Five Predictions and a Drum Roll”. Cliodynamics 6(2): 214-16. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4836f93g

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