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The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation

Cite this dataset

Schulz, Jonathan; Bahrami Rad, Duman; Beauchamp, Jonathan; Henrich, Joseph (2019). The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation [Dataset]. Dryad.


Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of many Western populations. We propose that part of this 15 variation can be traced back to the action and diffusion of the Western Church, the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church. Specifically, we propose that the Church’s transformation of European kinship, by promoting small, nuclear households, weak family ties and residential mobility, fostered greater individualism, less conformity and more impersonal prosociality. By combining data on 24 psychological outcomes with historical measures of both Church exposure and kinship, we find support for these ideas in a comprehensive array of analyses across countries, among European regions and between individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

This data set allows the replication of the analyses reported in the main text and the supplementary material of the manuscript (doi:10.1126/science.aau5141).