Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA)
Fellow of Magdalen College
The evolution of social complexity, the cognitive science of religion, experimental anthropology.
Harvey Whitehouse is the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant to test and develop his theory of "modes of religiosity". The modes theory proposes that the frequency and emotionality of rituals determines the scale and structure of religious organizations: low-frequency, highly arousing rituals bind together small but very cohesive groups of participants; high-frequency, less emotionally intense rituals create large anonymous communities that are more diffusely integrated. In recent years, Harvey Whitehouse’s work has expanded beyond religion to examine the role of rituals of all kinds in binding groups together and motivating inter-group competition, including warfare. This research has become increasingly global in reach with ongoing data collection now established at field sites in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Vanuatu, Brazil, USA, Spain, Cameroon, and Libya. Harvey Whitehouse’s lab group is the Centre for Anthropology and Mind and he is also a founding director, and the editor for ritual variables, of SESHAT: The Global History Databank.