Human cooperation relies extensively on evolved neurobiological mechanisms of positive affect and social engagement. Nevertheless, current models of religious prosociality–aimed at explaining the role of religion in the evolution of cooperation–are grounded in the fear of supernatural punishment. We propose an expansion of research on religious prosociality to encompass the breadth of physiological adaptations supporting social engagement, and suggest Polyvagal Theory as a methodologically and theoretically useful starting point: measuring variations in heart rate, which reflect underlying autonomic physiology adapted specifically for threat and social engagement, may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the role of religion in the evolution of cooperation.
- Social engagement system
- supernatural punishment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology