Posted: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Ara Norenzayan

Ara Norenzayan

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Date Written: January 2016


Humanity is teeming with breathtaking theodiversity — in religious beliefs, behaviors, and traditions, as well as in various intensities and forms of disbelief. Yet the origins and consequences of this diversity have received limited attention in psychology. I first describe how evolved psychological processes that influence and respond to cultural evolutionary trajectories generate and channel religious diversity. Next, I explore how theodiversity in turn shapes human psychology, and discuss three cultural dimensions of religious diversity in relation to psychological processes: (a) the cultural shift from small foraging bands and their local religious practices and beliefs to large and complex groups and their world religions, (b) cultural variability among world religions, and (c) secularization and the ensuing cultural divide between religious and nonreligious societies and subcultures. The contributions of psychology to the scientific study of religion will increase with a deeper understanding of theodiversity.

Suggested Citation

Norenzayan, Ara, Theodiversity (January 2016). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 67, pp. 465-488, 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Ara Norenzayan (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics