Coventry University | Dr. Jonathan Jong

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Dr. Jonathan Jong

Research Fellow and Co-Lead for Brain, Belief & Behaviour

My Research Vision

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.


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 BloomsburyAmazon, and elsewhere.

Selected Outputs

Selected Projects

  • The causal role of religious belief in managing death anxiety and intergroup discrimination. In this three year study, we design experimental manipulations aimed at shifting religious beliefs, to examine the effects of such temporary changes on death anxiety and its downstream social psychological effects.
  • Toward an affective science of religion: the emotional causes and consequences of religious belief. In this two year project, we investigate the relationships among traumatic life events, religiosity, and affective disposition across 10 countries; and experimentally manipulate both state emotions and state religious belief, to examine the causal relationships between the two sets of variables.
  • Religion’s Impact on Human Life. In this three year project, we investigate the relationships social effects of ritual participation.
Research breakout image

Research Fellow and Co-Lead for Brain, Belief & Behaviour

Building: James Starley
Room: JSG18
Google Scholar Jonathan Jong