|2020 - current||Lecturer. Religion Programme, School of Social Science, University of Otago. Dunedin, New Zealand.|
|2019 - 2021||External Research Associate. Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Jena, Germany.|
|2019 - 2020||Research Fellow. Religion Programme, School of Social Science, University of Otago. Dunedin, New Zealand.|
|2017 – 2019||Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, University of Oxford. Oxford, United Kingdom.|
|2016 – 2019||Postdoctoral Researcher. Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Jena, Germany.|
|2013 - 2017||Ph.D. in Psychlogy, School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.|
|2012||B.Sc. Honours in Psychology (1st Class), School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.|
|2009 - 2011||B.Sc. in Psychology and Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.|
Charles, S., van Mulukom, V., Farias, M., Brown, J. E., Delmonte, R., Maraldi, E. O., Turner, L, Watts, F., Watts, J. & Dunbar, R. (Submitted). Religious rituals increase social bonding and pain threshold.
Watts, J., Hamerslag, E.M., Sprules, C., Shaver, J.H., & Dunbar, R.I.M. (2022). Food storage facilitates professional religious specialization in hunter-gatherer societies. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 4, E17.
Watts, J., Jackson, J.C., Arnison, C., Hamerslag, E.M., Shaver, J.H., & Purzycki, B.G. (2021). Building Quantitative Cross-cultural Databases from Ethnographic Records: Promise, Problems and Principles. Cross-Cultural Research, 56(1), 62-94.
Jackson, J.C., Watts, J., List, J.M., Puryear, C., Drabble, R., & Lindquist, K.A. (2021). From Text to Thought: How Analyzing Language Can Advance Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1-22.
Evans, C.L., Greenhill, S.J., Watts, J., List, J.M., Botero, C., Gray, R.D., & Kirby, K.R. (2021). The Uses and Abuses of Tree Thinking in Cultural Evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376 (1828), 20200056.
Leisterer-Peoples, S., Hardecker, S., Watts, J., Greenhill, S., Ross, C., and Haun, D. (2021). The Austronesian Game Taxonomy: A cross-cultural dataset of historical games. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 8 (113).
Shaver, J.H., Power, E.A., Purzycki, B.G., Watts, J., Sear, R., Shenk, M.K., Sosis, R., & Bulbulia, J.A. (2020). Church attendance and alloparenting: an analysis of fertility, social support and child development among English mothers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375 (1805), 20190428.
Watts, J., Passmore, S., Jackson, J.C., Ryzimski, C. & Dunbar, R.I.M. (2020). Text analysis shows conceptual overlap as well as domain-specific differences in Christian and secular worldviews. Cognition, 201 (104290), 1-5.
Jackson, J.C., Watts, J., Henry, T.R., List, J.M., Forkel, R., Mucha, P.J., Greenhill, S.J., Gray, R.D., & Lindquist, K.A. (2019). Emotion semantics show both cultural variation and universal structure. Science, 366 (6472), 1517-1522.
Sheehan, O., Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (2018). Coevolution of landesque capital intensive agriculture and sociopolitical hierarchy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115 (14), 3628-3633.
Bulbulia, J., Fraser, G., Watts, J., Shaver, J.H., & Gray, R.D. (2017). Can honest signaling theory clarify religion’s role in the evolution of social inequality? Religion, Brain & Behavior, 7 (4), 285-288.
Watts, J., Greenhill, S., Atkinson, Q., Currie, T., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R. (2015). Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in Austronesia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biology, 282 (1804), 20142.
Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Greenhill, S.J., Gomes-Ng, S., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (2015). Pulotu: Database of Austronesian Supernatural Beliefs and Practices. PLoS ONE, 10 (9), e0136783.
Watts, J. (Submitted). The Cultural Macroevolution of Religion.
Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (2019). Did ritual human sacrifice help build and sustain social inequality? In D.J. Slone & W.W. McCorkle Jr. (Eds.) The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Key Empirical Studies. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic.
Watts, J., Gray, R.D., & Bulbulia, J. (2018). The New Collaborative Scientific Study of Religious History. In A. K. (Ed.) Evolution, Cognition, and the History of Religion: A New Synthesis. Leiden: Brill.
The Times. Power not poverty spreads Christianity, study finds. By Tom Whipple.
The Herald, NZ. What Christianity's spread teaches us about social change.
Science. Human sacrifice may have helped societies become more complex. By Emily Benson.
The Guardian. Study shows human sacrifice was less likely in more equal societies. By Tim Radford.
New York Times. Why Some Societies Practiced Ritual Human Sacrifice. By Tatiana Schlossberg.
Nature. Complex societies evolved without belief in all-powerful deity. By Philip Ball. Re-posted in Scientific American, and The Richard Dawkins Foundation.
Science. To foster complex societies, tell people a god is watching. By Lizzie Wade.
|2019||Cross-cultural Patterns in Theory of Mind.
Team: Watts, J. (PI), Greenhill, S. , & Low, J.
Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi (19-VUW-188).
|2020||The Evolution and Endurance of Religious Explanations.
Team: Jackson, J.C., Watts, J (AI), Bastian, B., Gray, K.
Issachar Fund, Templeton Religion Trust
|2019||Characterizing and Predicting Variation in Gods’ Minds across Culture and History.
Team: Gray, K, Jackson, J.C., Purzycki, B. Watts, J. (AI)
John Templeton Foundation (61111)
|2016||Religion and the Social Brain.
Team: Reiss, M, Dunbar, D, Turner, L, Farais, M, Watts, J (AI), Lockhard, A., Bretherton, R., Vermon, M.
Templeton Religion Trust (TRT0153)
|2017||Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.|
|2013||Ph.D. Scholarship, University of Auckland. Auckland, New Zealand.|
|2011||Summer Research Scholarship, Victoria University of Wellington. Wellington, New Zealand.|
Modelling Secularization across Nations Using Phylogenetic Causal Path Analysis (2021). Cultural Evolution Society Conference. Online.
The Emergence of Professional Religious Specialists in Hunter-gatherer Societies (2021). European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Conference. Online.
Modelling Secularization across Nations Using Phylogenetic Causal Path Analysis (2021). The Evolutionary Dynamics of Religion, Family Size and Child Success Seminar Series. Online.
Predicting the emergence of paid religious specialists in hunter-gatherer societies (2019). International Society for Science and Religion Conference. Oxford, United Kingdom.
The evolution of secular and religious leadership were tightly coupled and mutually reinforcing in early Austronesian societies (2018). Cultural Evolution Society Conference. Tempe, United States of America.
Greater political hierarchy predicts faster conversion to Christianity (2017). European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Conference. Paris, France.
Pulotu: The Database of Austronesian Supernatural Beliefs and Practices (2017). Cultural Evolution Society Conference. Jena, Germany.
Pulotu, the Database of Pacific Religions: Construction and Data Analysis (2016). Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. Stanford, United States of America.
Announcing Pulotu! A Public Database of Pacific Supernatural Belief and Practice (2015). World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Erfurt, Germany.
The Function of Human Sacrifice in Austronesia (2015). Human Behaviour and Evolution Society. Columbia, United States of America.
The Evolution of Moralising Gods and Political Complexity (2013). Allan Wilson Centre Conference. Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Testing Evolutionary Theories of Religion Across Cultures (2019). University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education. University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
The cultural evolution of supernatural beliefs and practices (2018). School of Psychology. Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.
Testing for Co-evolution with Pagel’s Discrete (2017). Quantitative Methods Spring School. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.
The Cultural Evolution of Religion (2017). Life Sciences Kolleg. German National Academic Foundation, Germany.
The Social Control Hypothesis of Human Sacrifice (2015). Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, University of Oxford. Oxford, United Kingdom.
Supernatural Punishment in the Pacific (2014). School of Art History, Classics & Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
|2021 - current||The cultural evolution of religous systems (Course Coordinator). Religion Programme, University of Otago, New Zealand|
|2021 - current||Religion and Human Behaviour (Course Coordinator). Religion Programme, University of Otago, New Zealand|
|2013 - 2015||Evolution, Behaviour, and Cognition (Graduate Teaching Assistant). School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand|
|2020 - current||Internet Officer. International Association for the Cognitive and Evolutionary Sciences of Religion|
|2020 - current||Vice-president. New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions|
|2020 - current||Postgraduate Student Coordinator. Religion Programme, University of Otago|
|2020 - 2021||Seminar series and events coordinator. Religion Programme, University of Otago|
|2019 - 2020||Steam Co-Chair. International Association for the History of Religion Congress.|
|2018||Scientific Committee Member. Applications in Cultural Evolution: Arts, Languages, Technologies Conference.|
|2016 - 2017||Regional Editor. Database of Religious History.|
|2013 - current||Editor. Pulotu database of Austronesian religion and culture|
Ad-hoc reviewer for: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Current Anthropology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Religion, Brain & Behavior, Ethology; Evolution and Human Behaviour, Journal of Anthropological Research, Palgrave Communications, Plos One, Studies in Religion-Sciences Religieuses, International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, Human Nature, Archive for the Psychology of Religion
|2020 - current||Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi|
|2020 - current||International Association for the Cognitive and Evolutionary Science of Religion|
|2020 - current||New Zealand Association for the Study of Religion|
|2020 - current||Core Member, Centre for Research on Evolution, Belief and Behaviour|
|2019 - current||Cultural Evolution Society|
|2019 - current||European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association|