This project takes advantage of a rare opportunity to study the development of a new religious ritual site in the Peruvian Altiplano where people began worshipping an apparition of Jesus, along with traditional Andean figures such as a stone toad, in 2014. Deciding whether to adopt a new behavior poses a challenge, particularly when it is difficult to verify the efficacy of that trait. New religious beliefs epitomize such a trait. Unfortunately, most accounts of religious changes are retrospective, and therefore cannot measure the social, strategic, and cognitive underpinnings of such cultural change. The proposed project remedies that.
We address three goals: to 1) develop a regional project examining the predictors, and cooperative consequences of, adopting new religious practices early in its diffusion, 2) gather longitudinal data to model the spread of belief, how it is internalized, and how it is affected by external shocks such economic uncertainty and pandemics, and 3) develop research capacity in Perú by training a multi-lingual team of students and colleagues in ethnographic, behavioral, and cognitive methods. These data will allow us to compare multiple hypotheses for why people believe new information and act in, sometimes costly, ways consistent with those beliefs.