The elephant in the pews: Reproductive strategy and religiosity

Jason Weeden, Robert Kurzban, Douglas T. Kenrick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


When it comes to religiosity and its lifestyle correlates, the typical assumption is that the causal arrows run primarily from religiosity to morals to one’s own behavior. In contrast, this chapter argues that differences in sexual and reproductive lifestyles can substantially influence individual choices regarding religious involvement and related beliefs. Religious groups provide attractive benefits to high-commitment, high-fertility strategists, but are simultaneously less helpful or harmful to low-commitment, low-fertility strategists. The chapter reviews evidence showing not only that sexual and reproductive variables have relatively large statistical relationships with religiosity in modern, developed societies but also that the causal role of these sexual and reproductive variables helps to account for various longitudinal and correlational patterns involving religiosity. Human life is driven by concrete, fitness-relevant concerns, and contemporary differences in religiosity are no exception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and Religion
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780199397747
StatePublished - Jun 2 2016


  • Attendance
  • Causality
  • Church
  • Moral
  • Religiosity
  • Reproductive
  • Sexual
  • Sociosexuality
  • Strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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