Modeling and Simulation as a Pedagogical and Heuristic Tool for Developing Theories in Cognitive Science: An Example from Ritual Competence Theory

  • Justin E. LaneEmail author
  • F. LeRon Shults
  • Robert N. McCauley
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 7)


An interdisciplinary team of researchers in the fields of philosophy, religious studies, cognitive science, and computer science aimed to develop a computer model of ritual behaviour, based on McCauley and Lawson’s theory of ritual competence. That endeavour revealed some questions about the internal consistency and significance of the theory that had not previously been noticed or addressed. It also demonstrated how modeling and simulation can serve as valuable pedagogical and heuristic tools for better specifying theories that deal with complex social phenomena.


Cognition Ritual Ritual competence theory Schism Complexity CSR Agent-based model Religion 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Mind and CultureCenter for Modeling Social Systems at AgderforskningLEVYNACzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary AnthropologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.University of Agder and Center for Modeling Social Systems at AgderforskningKristiansandNorway
  4. 4.Center for Mind, Brain, and CultureEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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