Harvey Whitehouse is Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, and a Professorial Fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford.
He is one of the founders of the cognitive science of religion field, and especially well known for his theory of ‘modes of religiosity’ that has been the subject of extensive critical evaluation and testing by anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, cognitive scientists and evolutionary theorists. The modes theory proposes that the frequency and emotionality of rituals determines the scale and structure of religious organisations.
In recent years, his work has expanded beyond religion to examine the role of rituals of all kinds in binding groups together and motivating inter-group competition, including warfare. One of his current projects, Ritual, Community, and Conflict, examines the role of ritual in child development, social behaviour, and the evolution of political systems.