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The social functions of shamanism

  • Rachel E. Watson-Jones (a1) and Cristine H. Legare (a1)


Cultural evolutionary accounts of shamanism must explain the cross-cultural recurrence and variation in associated practices. We suggest that Singh's account of shamanism would be strengthened by considering the social functions of shamanism in groups. Shamanism increases social group cohesion, making it distinct from other magico-religious practices.



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Legare, C. H. & Gelman, S. (2008) Bewitchment, biology, or both: The co-existence of natural and supernatural explanatory frameworks across development. Cognitive Science 32:607–42. doi:10.1080/03640210802066766.
Souza, A. L. & Legare, C. H. (2011) The role of testimony in the evaluation of religious expertise. Religion, Brain, and Behavior 1:146–53.
Watson-Jones, R. E. & Legare, C. H. (2016) The social functions of group rituals. Current Directions in Psychological Science 25:4246.
Winkelman, M. J. (1986b) Magico-religious practitioner types and socioeconomic conditions. Behavior Science Research 20:1746. doi:10.1177/106939718602000102.


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