Richard Sosis

James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology Ph.D. New Mexico, 1997


My work has focused on the evolution of religion and cooperation, with particular interests in ritual, magic, religious cognition, and the dynamics of religious systems. To explore these issues, I have conducted fieldwork with remote cooperative fishers in the Federated States of Micronesia and with various communities throughout Israel. I am co-founder and co-editor of the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, which publishes research on the biological study of religion, and Religion Editor of the online magazine This View of Life.

Research Interests

human behavioral ecology, collective action problems, evolution of cooperation, signaling theory, foraging theory, life history theory, complex adaptive systems, evolution of religion, ritual, magic, anthropology of sport, utopian societies, Micronesia, Israel, Middle East


Anthropology of Jewish Cultures
Anthropology of Sport and Games
Human Behavioral Ecology
Construction of Social Reality
Culture and Religion
Religious Pluralism
Understanding Religious Experience

Selected publications

Kiper, Jordan and Richard Sosis Moral intuitions and the religious system: an adaptationist account. Philosophy, Theology,  and Science 1:172-199.
Scott, IM, SC Josephson, A Boyette, AP Clark, R Fried, M Gibson, B Hewlett, M Jamieson, W Jankowiak, PL Honey, Z Huang, MA Liebert, BG Purzycki, J Shaver, JJ Snodgrass, R Sosis, LS Sugiyama, V Swami, DW Yu, Y Zhao, & IS Penton-Voak Human preferences for sexually dimorphic faces may be evolutionarily novel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(40):14388-14393.
Purzycki, Benjamin and Richard Sosis The extended religious phenotype and the adaptive coupling of ritual and belief. Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution 59:99-108.
Purzycki, Benjamin, Daniel Finkel, John Shaver, Nathan Wales, Adam B. Cohen, and Richard Sosis What does God Know? Supernatural Agents’ Perceived Access to Socially Strategic and Nonstrategic Information. Cognitive Science 36:846-869.
Sosis, Richard and Joseph Bulbulia The Behavioral Ecology of Religion: The Benefits and Costs of One Evolutionary Approach. Religion 41:3, 341-362.
Wildman, Wesley J. and Richard Sosis Stability of Groups with Costly Beliefs and Practices. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. 14 (3) 6.
Sosis, Richard and W. Penn Handwerker Psalms and Coping with Uncertainty: Israeli Women’s Responses to the 2006 Lebanon War. American Anthropologist 113:40-55.
Sosis, Richard Psalms for Safety: Magico-Religious Responses to Threats of Terror. Current Anthropology 48:903-911.
Sosis, Richard, Howard Kress, and Boster, James Scars for War: Evaluating Alternative Signaling Explanations for Cross-Cultural Variance in Ritual Costs. Evolution and Human Behavior 28:234-247.
Ruffle, Bradley and Richard Sosis Cooperation and the In-Group-Out-Group Bias: A Field Test on Israeli Kibbutz Members and City Residents. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 60:147-163.
Alcorta, Candace and Richard Sosis Ritual,Emotion, and Sacred Symbols: The Evolution of Religion as an Adaptive Complex Human Nature 16:323-359.
Sosis, Richard Does Religion Promote Trust? The Role of Signaling, Reputation, and Punishment. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 1:1-30 (Article 7).
Sosis, Richard and Candace Alcorta Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior Evolutionary Anthropology 12:264-274.
Sosis, Richard and Eric Bressler Cooperation and commune longevity: A test of the costly signaling theory of religion. Cross-Cultural Research 37:211-239.
Sosis, Richard Patch Choice Decisions on Ifaluk Atoll American Anthropologist 104:583-598.
Sosis, Richard Costly signaling and torch fishing on Ifaluk Atoll Evolution and Human Behavior 21:223-244.
Sosis, Richard, Sharon Feldstein, and Kim Hill Bargaining theory and cooperative fishing participation on Ifaluk Atoll Human Nature 9:163-203.
Richard Sosis
Contact Information
Phone1 860 486 0071
Office LocationBH 445