Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize awarded to Ara Norenzayan and colleagues

Dr. Ara Norenzayan

Ara Norenzayan and colleagues have received the Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize for their paper “The Cultural Evolution of Prosocial Religions“, a theory of the origins and rise of prosocial religions and the cultural evolution of these religious beliefs.

Awarded by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the prize recognizes an article or book chapter that has been “judged to provide the most innovative theoretical contribution to social/personality psychology.

“This paper is the end result of an exciting joint effort between five social psychologists, a historian, and an anthropologist,“ says Norenzayan, a professor in the department of psychology at UBC. “It’s an honour to receive this award that recognizes the value of such an interdisciplinary collaboration that tackles interrelated questions about the origins of faith, the expansion of cooperation and conflict, and cultural persistence and change.”

The 2017 prize was also awarded to Will Gervais, Joseph Henrich, Rita McNamara, Azim Shariff, Edward Slingerland, and Aiyana Willard, co-authors of the article. More.

Please join us in congratulating the authors on this award!


Ara Norenzayan is professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a co-director of UBC’s Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture (HECC). He has published widely on the evolutionary origins of religion, and the psychology of religious diversity in today’s globalized world. He is the author of Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict.