The cult of Theoi: Economic uncertainty and religion

Frijters, Paul and Baron, Juan D. (2012) The cult of Theoi: Economic uncertainty and religion. Economic Record, 88 Supplement 1: 116-136. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4932.2012.00802.x

Author Frijters, Paul
Baron, Juan D.
Title The cult of Theoi: Economic uncertainty and religion
Journal name Economic Record   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0013-0249
Publication date 2012-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4932.2012.00802.x
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 88
Issue Supplement 1
Start page 116
End page 136
Total pages 21
Place of publication Richmond, VIC, Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Abstract Sacrifices to deities occur in nearly all known religions. In this paper, we report on our attempts to elicit this type of religious behaviour towards 'Theoi' in the laboratory. The theory we test is that, when faced with uncertainty, individuals attempt to engage in a reciprocal contract with the source of uncertainty by sacrificing towards it. In our experiments, we create the situation whereby individuals face an uncertain economic payback due to 'Theoi' and we allow participants to sacrifice towards this entity. Aggregate sacrifices amongst participants are over 30 per cent of all takings, increase with the level of humanistic labelling of Theoi and decrease when participants share information or when the level of uncertainty is lower. The findings imply that under circumstances of high uncertainty people are willing to sacrifice large portions of their income even when this has no discernible effect on outcomes.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Economics Publications
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