Agency Detection

Religion Cognition and Behavior Lab

University of Amsterdam

Agency Detection & Supernatural Beliefs
















Following evolutionary accounts of religion, the aim of this research line is to pursue the cognitive precursors of supernatural beliefs. Based on the notion that agency-detection biases could be at the basis of religious thought and behavior, we aim to elucidate the relation between perceptual and cognitive biases and belief in supernatural agents.


To this end we combine experimental manipulations (e.g. priming, contextual manipulations, suggestibility, Virtual Reality) with well-established psychophysical measures of agency detection. Given the importance of prior beliefs on agency detection, taking into account individual differences in religion and spirituality is central to this approach (e.g. studying religious populations).