Personal profile


Jonathan Jong completed his doctorate at the Department of Psychology, University of Otago, New Zealand in 2012, specializing in the role of death anxiety in religious belief. He then joined the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, working on two large projects—Ritual, Community, and Conflict and Religion’s Impact on Human Life—on the social causes and consequences of religion and ritual. He came to Coventry University in 2015, and is Deputy Director of the Brain, Belief and Behaviour group at the Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement. His book, Death Anxiety and Religious Belief (with Jamin Halberstadt) is now available from Bloomsbury, Amazon, and elsewhere.

Research Interests

Death anxiety; Religious belief; Ritual behaviour; Social psychology; Experimental psychology; Evolutionary psychology

Vision Statement

My research interests are unapologietically anthropocentric. After all, human beings are endlessly fascinating. We worship gods, and build cathedrals to them. We hold strong moral beliefs, and construct complicated systems of reward and punishment to govern them. We fall in love; and out of love. We laugh at jokes, as well as in inappropriate occasions. And we do so much more. But why? What motivates human behaviour? How do evolutionary forces and cultural contexts shape us today? These are the sorts of questions that occupy my days, and sometimes keep me up at night. My research is driven by a curiosity about why human beings do the curious and amazing things we do.

External positions

Research Associate, University of Oxford

1 Oct 201531 May 2018

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Research Output 2012 2018

Synchrony and Physiological Arousal Increase Cohesion and Cooperation in Large Naturalistic Groups

Jackson, J. C., Jong, J., Bilkey, D., Whitehouse, H., Zollmann, S., McNaughton, C. & Halberstadt, J. 9 Jan 2018 In : Scientific Reports. 8, 1, 127

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Ceremonial Behavior
Cluster Analysis

Knowledge of Deaths in Hotel Rooms Diminishes Perceived Value and Elicits Guest Aversion

Bering, J. M., Curtin, E. R. & Jong, J. 4 Jun 2017 In : Omega. p. 30222817709694

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Real estate

Rituals Improve Children's Ability to Delay Gratification

Rybanska, V., McKay, R., Jong, J. & Whitehouse, H. 18 Feb 2017 In : Child Development. (in press), p. (in press)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ceremonial Behavior
Executive Function
religious behavior
3 Citations

Strangers in a Stadium: Studying Group Dynamics With In Vivo Behavioral Tracking

Jackson, J. C., Bilkey, D., Jong, J., Rossignac-Milon, M. & Halberstadt, J. 22 Jun 2017 In : Social Psychological and Personality Science. (in press), p. (in press) 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Controlled Environment
Research Design