Religion’s impact on human life is contentious. Does religion make us more moral? Is it responsible for the development of civilization? Answering such questions will benefit both our theoretical understanding of ourselves as a species and our practical understanding of factors influencing generosity and tolerance. Efforts to ascertain religion’s impact have faced a set of crippling problems including the fuzziness of the word “religion", a lack of cross-cultural and longitudinal data, and a lack of integration between proximate and ultimate accounts. We present this proposal because we see an opportunity to overcome these problems and ascertain religion’s impact. During Phase 1 our proposed project, we will seize the opportunity created by our current work on ritual in three ways. First we will begin new, high-impact research streams on the effects of prayer, the ability of ritual performance to instill morally-impacting religious beliefs, and whether rituals have the same social effects in secular contexts. Second, we will establish a sub-granting program to fund projects on ritual's impact across cultures. And third, we will support Religion and Spirituality Projects in both North America and Asia, which will, through detailed longitudinal databases of religious communities, greatly advance research on the evolution of religion. This project will produce not only scholarly and popular publications on matters of public interest, but will achieve two crucial long-term impacts. First it will demonstrate to scholars of religion the feasibility and necessity of a cross-cultural, longitudinal, and interdisciplinary approach. Second, it will fill a significant void in producing a network of researchers in diverse environments ready to collaborate on research directly relevant to our big questions well into the future. Consequently, the project has a strong potential to produce a paradigm shift religious studies.