3. Introduction to Experimental Research of Religion

Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion - Armin W. Geertz

Dimitris Xygalatas [+-]
University of Connecticut, United States, and Aarhus University, Denmark
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Dimitris Xygalatas holds a joint position between the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, where he is directing the Experimental Anthropology Lab. He has previously held positions at the universities of Princeton and Masaryk, where he served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion. His main areas of interest are experimental anthropology and the experimental study of religion, and much of his work has focused on the practice of extreme rituals around the world. He has conducted several years of ethnographic research in Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, and Mauritius and has pioneered new methods, integrating ethnographic and experimental approaches in field research.


The cognitive science of religion (CSR) does not have its own methodology, and yet from the very beginnings of the discipline, methodology has defined it not only in relation to the general study of religion in the humanities but also to the sciences interested in the mind. CSR scholars are using a wide range of methodologies, borrowing mostly from the cognitive sciences and experimental psychology, but also from biology, archaeology, history, philosophy, linguistics, the social and statistical sciences, neurosciences, and anthropology. This multi-disciplinarity, in fact, defines the cognitive science of religion. Such multi-disciplinarity requires hard work and truly interdisciplinary teams, but also continual reflections on and debates about the methodologies being used. In fact, no CSR study worth its name can rely on only one methodology. Triangulation is standard, but often even more approaches are used. This book consists of selected papers from the Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion and the Journal of Cognitive Historiography . Each chapter demonstrates a particular method or group of methods and how those methods advance our knowledge of the religious mind from the ancient past up to today.

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Xygalatas, Dimitris. 3. Introduction to Experimental Research of Religion. Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2022. ISBN 9781800501614. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=43003. Date accessed: 20 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43003. Oct 2022

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