Journal Articles

Jackson, J. C., Lindquist, K., Drabble, R., Atkinson, Q., & Watts, J. (In Press). Negative Words Mutate Faster than Positive Words in Lexical Evolution. Nature Human Behavior.

Sheehan, O., Watts, J., Gray, R.D., Bulbulia, J. & Atkinson, Q.D. (In Press). The Coevolution of Religious and Political Authority in Austronesian Societies. Nature Human Behavior.

Jackson, J. C., Wilbanks, D., Bastian, B., Watts, J., DiMaggio, N., & Gray, K. (Submitted). Supernatural Explanations Across the Globe Are More Common for Natural Than Social Phenomena.

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.

Passmore, S., & Watts, J. (2022). WEIRD People and The Western Church: who made whom? Religion, Brain & Behavior.

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.

Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Bulbulia, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (2018). Christianity spread faster in small politically structured societies. Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 559-564.

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.

Gray, R.D., & Watts, J. (2017). Cultural macroevolution matters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(30), 7846-7852.

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., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q.D., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R.D. (2016). Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies. Nature, 532 (7598), 228-231.

Watts, J. Bulbulia, J., Gray, R.D., & Atkinson, Q.D. (2016). Clarity and Causality Needed in Claims about Big Gods (Commentary). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39, 41-42.

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.

Atkinson, Q., Latham, A., & Watts, J. (2014). Are big gods a big deal in the emergence of big groups? Religion, Brain & Behaviour, 5 (4), 266-274.

Low, J., & Watts, J. (2013). Attributing false-beliefs about object identity is a signature blindspot in humans' efficient mind-reading system. Psychological Science, 24 (3), 305-311.

Book Chapters

Watts, J. (In Press). The Cultural Macroevolution of Religion. In J. Tehrani, J. Kendal, & R. Kendal (Eds) Oxford Handbook of Cultural Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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.

Articles for a General Audience

Purzycki, B. G. and Watts, J. (2018). Reinvigorating the cooperative, comparative ethnographic sciences of religion. Free Inquiry, 38(3): 26-29.

Watts, J. (2016). How human sacrifice helped to enforce social inequality. Aeon.

Watts, J. (2016). The Function of Human Sacrifice in Ancient Societies. The Conversation, This View of Life and IFL Science.

Watts, J. (2015). Did Fear In Supernatural Punishment Build Complex Societies? This View of Life.

Media Coverage Here