• Room 02.005 - 27 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Cognitive Anthropology of Religion and Ritual - Cognitive Anthropology of Atheism

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Statement

Director of Education, HAPP

Assistant Director, Institute of Cognition and Culture

DPhil, MSc (Oxford), MA (Missouri), BA (Southeast Missouri State)

Dr. Lanman joined the School in 2012, after working as a Departmental Lecturer (2009-2011) and Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2011-2012) in Anthropology at the University of Oxford and a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at The University of British Columbia.

Research Interests

Dr. Lanman's research addresses two main areas in the scientific study of religion.  Across both areas, he aims to integrate theories and methodologies from the social, cognitive, and evolutionary sciences with ethnographic and historical research.  While his geographic area of interest is international, his work has focused on the North Atlantic world and, more recently, Japan.


1) Atheism & Secularization

His work on atheism and secularization aims to provide an account of why some individuals become theists and others become non-theists, why some nations have much higher proportions of non-theists than others, and why some non-theists engage in anti-religious social action.  This research engages literature on cognitive biases, existential security, hypocrisy, threat detection, coalitionary psychology, and moral psychology and focuses on the United States, United Kingdom, and Scandinavia. 

In collaboration with Lois Lee (UCL), Stephen Bullivant (St. Mary's), and Miguel Farias (Coventry), he is continuing this research as a PI on a John Templeton Funded grant entitled "Understanding Unbelief" (£2.3m, 2017-2020),  a large, international, and interdisciplinary programme of research on unbelief around the world. understanding-unbelief.net


2) Religious Identity, Ritual, and Self-Sacrifice

Dr. Lanman's  collaborative work on religious identity, ritual, and self-sacrifice aims to provide an account of the nature and catalysts of religious cohesion and the relative contributions of belief, ritual, values, and identity in explaining individual willingness to die for a religious group.  This research engages literature on belief, ritual, memory, identity fusion, psychological kinship, sacred values, and martyrdom and is international with a focus on the United States and Europe. 

In collaboration with Harvey Whitehouse (Oxford), William Swann (Texas), Michael Buhrmester (Oxford/Texas), and others, he has contributed to this research  as part of a £3.2m project funded by the ESRC entitled Ritual, Community, and Conflict (2011-2017). http://www.anthro.ox.ac.uk/ritual-community-and-conflict  

 For further detail of Dr. Lanman's research, see his interview in the New Science of Religion series.  




Us and Them: Why we have ingroups and outgroups, ANT1007

In Gods We Trust: The new science of religion, ANT3150

Anthropology: Ethnography and Evolution, ANT7009

MA Specialisation: Cognitive Science of Religion, ANT7053






Other Online Media

  • British Humanist Association & Centre for Inquiry:  "Atheism: The View from Cognitive Science." Lecture given at Conway Hall in 2014. https://youtu.be/YSZCnNjqkEY

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Jonathan Lanman is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 17 Similar Profiles
Religion Medicine & Life Sciences
Altruism Medicine & Life Sciences
Cultural Diversity Medicine & Life Sciences
secularization Social Sciences
science Social Sciences
Ecosystem Medicine & Life Sciences
social cohesion Social Sciences
religious behavior Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2012 2017

R8418HAP: Understanding Unbelief

Lanman, J.

25/05/2017 → …

Project: Research

Research Output 2007 2019

1 Citation (Scopus)

Measuring Supernatural Belief Implicitly Using the Affect Misattribution Procedure

Ross, R. M., Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Gervais, W. M., Jong, J., Lanman, J. A., McKay, R. & Pennycook, G., 24 Jun 2019, In : Religion, Brain, and Behavior. 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Failure of Religious Systems

Lanman, J. & Turpin, H., Jan 2019, (Accepted) The Oxford Handbook of the Cognitive Science of Religion . Oxford University Press

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Causes, Effects, and the 'Mush' of Culture

Lanman, J., Turpin, H. & Ward, S., 04 Sep 2018, (Accepted) In : Current Anthropology.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Open Access
3 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access



Junior Scholar Grant: Nontheism in Scandinavia

Jonathan Lanman (Recipient), 2008

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively


Peter Lienhardt Memorial Grant

Jonathan Lanman (Recipient), 2008

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

Cognitive Science of Religion
General Secretary

Selected as the Inaugural Lecturer of the NSRN

Jonathan Lanman (Recipient), Apr 2009

Prize: Other distinction


Activities 2007 2019

The Future of 'Unbelief:' The Next 50 Years

Jonathan Lanman (Advisor)
28 May 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar

Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Journal)

Jonathan Lanman (Peer reviewer)
Jul 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

Understanding Unbelief: Initial Findings

Jonathan Lanman (Invited speaker)
27 Jun 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (Journal)

Jonathan Lanman (Peer reviewer)
Aug 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

Understanding Unbelief: Initial Findings

Jonathan Lanman (Invited speaker)
15 Jun 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference

Press / Media

Belief, Identity, and Sacrifice (Transliminal Media)

Jonathan Lanman


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Practice What You Preach: CREDs and CRUDs (The Religious Studies Project)

Jonathan Lanman & Thomas Coleman


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment