France Bali Bali France Mongolia Mongolia Costa Rica Guatemala Mongolia Madagascar Guatemala Guatemala Madagascar Madagascar Guatemala NA NA Does religion promote sacrifice for the group? Baumard, N., Chevallier, C., Sebesteny, A., Lenfesty, H., Regnier, D., Berniunas, R. and Castelain, T. Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford Institut Jean-Nicod (CNRS-EHESS-ENS) OPTIONALLOGO HERE OPTIONALLOGO HERE Study 2 – The Buoy Introduction Study 1 – The Burning House Discussion Considerable debate has surrounded the question of the origins and evolution of religion. One proposal views religion as an adaptation for group cooperation. According to this theory, religions and their associated practices greatly increase the costs of defection (through punishment and ostracism), increase the contributions of individuals to group effort (through cultural and emotional mechanisms that increase trust), and sharpen the boundaries — biological and cultural — between groups (Boyd & Richerson, 2009; Henrich, et al., 2010; Wilson, 2002). The alternative proposal views religion as a by-product of evolved, non-religious, cognitive functions. In this theory, morality has been selected to be fair in order to be recruited in cooperative ventures (Baumard, 2008). In this perspective, religion and religious norms are by-products of our cooperative dispositions. People reflect on their moral intuitions and elaborate moral theories and moral norms to explain and justify their moral intuitions (Boyer, 2001). How can the two theories be disentangled? The two theories do not make the same predictions regarding moral judgement. Indeed, according to the group selection account of religion, religious people should think that actions that are beneficial to the group are morally right and that one has a duty to sacrifice if this increases the group’s fitness. By contrast, the by-product theory predicts that people should think that one has to be fair with others. Although religious reflections emphasize sacrifice, this should not affect people’s moral intuitions. To test these predictions, participants from different religious backgrounds were asked to rate stories involving the sacrifice of one person in order to save five others. • In the “Burning House” scenario, John is walking in the countryside when he sees a house burning. He sees that five people are blocked inside. If nothing is done, these people are going to die within a few minutes. John can go inside the burning house to save them but he will be injured as a result. We manipulated the severity of the outcome for John in four variants of the story: • Light burns • Heavy burns lasting several months • Disfiguration • Death • At the end of the story, John decides not to go inside the burning house. • Participants were asked to say whether they agreed with John’s decision and to rate their level of agreement or disagreement on a scale ranging from 1 “We can reproach John for his decision” to 9 “We cannot reproach John for his decision”. In the “Buoy” scenario, a boat has sunk and six people are about to drown. Five people are very much close to each other, another person is alone. A sailor happens to be there and can throw a big buoy to help them. In three variants of the story, we manipulated the position at which the buoy lands when the sailor first throws it: 1) Exactly in the middle 2) Waves pushing the buoy towards the person alone 3) The buoy is right next to the person alone The sailor sees that the shipwrecked are very tired and that he will not be able to save both the group of five and the person alone. The sailor can take back the buoy with a rope and throw it again. If he throws the buoy toward the five, he will save them but the person alone will die. Participants were asked whether they thought that the sailor should take the buoy back and throw it toward the group of five and to rate the strength of the sailor’s duty on a scale ranging from 1 “He should not throw the buoy again” to 9 “He should throw the buoy again”. First, the results show that despite cultural differences, participants’ moral judgements follow the same pattern: In Study 1, fewer participants blamed John for not saving people in a burning house if the outcome for him was severe; In Study 2, fewer participants thought the sailor should throw the buoy again as the buoy got nearer the person alone. Second, participants’ moral judgements were more consistent with the by-product theory than with cultural group selection. In Study 1, participants thought that the duty to help did not depend on whether it maximized the number of lives saved (and hence the group’s fitness). Rather, people’s duty to help seemed to be based on the ratio between the cost of helping and the benefit to be helped: as the cost increased, people thought that they had less duty to help. This logic fits more with the by-product hypothesis in which individuals behave in a mutually advantageous manner in order to be recruited in cooperative ventures. In Study 2, participants thought that one does not have the duty to maximize the number of lives saved. Rather, people’s right to life depends on their situation: the safer they are, the more they have a right to be saved (or not to be sacrificed to save others). Again, this fits better with the by-product hypothesis in which individuals respect others’ interests in order to be recruited in cooperative ventures. Third, further analyses revealed that religiousness had no impact on participants’ answers. This confirms previous results showing that moral intuitions are not influenced by religious affiliations (Hauser, Cushman, Young, & Jin, 2007; Pyysiäinen & Hauser, 2010). Thus, although religious reflections may emphasize sacrifice, these results indicate that they do not affect people’s moral intuitions. People reflect on their moral intuitions and elaborate moral theories and religious norms to explain and justify their moral intuitions (Boyer, 2001). Again, this fits nicely with the by-product theory according to which moral intuitions come first and religious norms second. To conclude, neither the logic of moral judgements (Point 2), nor the effect of religious affiliations (Point 3) fit with the idea that religion promotes sacrifice for the group. Results In line with our hypothesis, fewer participants blamed John as the severity of the outcome increased, χ² (3) = 105 ; p < 0.01. Answers to the scale also indicate a main effect of severity across cultures: F(3,112) = 35.43 , p<.001. In all societies, a strong correlation was found between the severity of the outcome for John and his duty to help: - France: rquest = 0.59; p < .001; rscale = 0.66; p < .001 - Costa Rica: rquest = 0.36; p < .001; rscale = 0.40; p < .001 - Guatemala: rquest = 0.37; p < .001; rscale = 0.44; p < .001 - Bali: rquest = 0.46; p < .001; rscale = 0.45; p < .001 - Mongolia: rquest = 0.34; p < .001; rscale = 0.42; p < .001 - Madagascar: rquest = 0.75; p < .001; rscale = 0.79; p < .001 Participants were then classified in two groups: Religious or Atheist. Further analyses demonstrated that religiousness had no impact on answers to the question (Light burns: U = 1057, Z = -.91, p = .37, Heavy burns: U = 900, Z = -1.05, p = .29, Disfiguration: U = 959, Z = -1.92, p = .06, Death: U = 1064, Z = -1.20, p = .23) or to the scale (Sev*Relig: F(3,112) = 1.60 , p < .19). Results In line with our hypothesis, fewer participants thought the sailor should throw the buoy again as the buoy got nearer the person alone, χ ²(2) = 8.68 ; p < 0.1. Furthermore, answers to the scale indicate a main effect of position across cultures; F(2,127) = 7.78 , p<.001. In all societies, a strong correlation was found between the position of the buoy in relation to the person alone: - France: rquest = -0.18; p < .2; rscale = 0.37; p < .001 - Mongolia: rquest = -0.30; p < .005; rscale = 0.37; p < .001 - Guatemala: rquest = -0.37; p < .005; rscale = 0.28; p < .001 - Bali: rquest = -0.26; p < .02; rscale = 0.24; p < .02. Participants were then classified in two groups: Religious or Atheist. Further analyses demonstrated that religiousness had no impact on answers to the question (Halfway: U = 1119, Z = -.68, p = .50, Moving Towards: U = 1131, Z = -.35, p = .72, Very Near: U = 935, Z = -1.73, p = .08) or to the scale (Distance*Relig: F(2,127) = .450 , p<0.64). Material and Methods Participants 133 participants were recruited amongst the general population (76 females, Mean age = 30, StDev = 12, range = 17 – 79) in six different societies: France (Atheists), Costa-Rica (Protestants), Guatemala (Catholics), Bali (Hindus), Mongolia (Buddhists) and Madagascar (Catholics). Material Seven stories were included in the questionnaire. All involved the sacrifice of one person in order to save five others. At the end of the story, participants were asked to decide whether they agreed with sacrificing one person for the benefit of five others and to rate their level of agreement or disagreement on a 9-point scale. Procedure The experimenter first read the instructions to the participants and made sure that they understood how to use the scale. The experimenter then went away until the participant had completed the questionnaire. At the end of the procedure, the participant was asked to provide demographic information (age, sex and religion) and debriefed. Duty to throw the buoy Strength of duty References Baumard, N. (2008). A Naturalist and Mutualist Theory of Morality. ENS, Paris. Baumard, N., Boyer, P., & Sperber, D. (forthcoming). A cognitive and cultural theory of reflective beliefs. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. (2009). Culture and the evolution of human cooperation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1533), 3281-3288. Boyer, P. (2001). And man creates God: Religion explained. New York: Basic Books. Haidt, J. (2007, 12/7/07). Doing science as if groups existed. www.edge.com Hauser, M., Cushman, F., Young, L., & Jin, R. (2007). A dissociation between moral judgments and justifications. Mind & Language, 22(1), 1-21. Henrich, J., Ensminger, J., McElreath, R., Barr, A., Barrett, C., Bolyanatz, A., et al. (2010). Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment. Science, 327(5972), 1480. Pyysiäinen, I., & Hauser, M. (2010). The origins of religion: evolved adaptation or by-product? Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Wilson, D. (2002). Darwin's cathedral : Evolution, religion, and the nature of society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Acknowledgments This research was supported by the Project “Explaining Religion” funded by the European Commission.