• 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


Research output per year

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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

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R8418HAP: Understanding Unbelief

Lanman, J.

25/05/2017 → …

Project: Research

Research Output

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

Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)

    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

    45 Downloads (Pure)

    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
    4 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)
    155 Downloads (Pure)


    Junior Scholar Grant: Nontheism in Scandinavia

    Lanman, Jonathan (Recipient), 2008

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Peter Lienhardt Memorial Grant

    Lanman, Jonathan (Recipient), 2008

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Selected as the Inaugural Lecturer of the NSRN

    Lanman, Jonathan (Recipient), Apr 2009

    Prize: Other distinction

  • Activities

    “I’ve never really thought about it:” The non-issue of non-belief in Japan

    Jonathan Lanman (Invited speaker)

    24 Jan 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Understanding Unbelief: Initial Findings

    Jonathan Lanman (Invited speaker)

    18 Jun 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Exploring Nonreligious Worldviews: Definitions, Data, Diversity

    Jonathan Lanman (Invited speaker), & Stephen Pett (Invited speaker)

    26 Jan 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    The Future of 'Unbelief:' The Next 50 Years

    Jonathan Lanman (Advisor)

    28 May 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar


    Jonathan Lanman (Peer reviewer)

    Aug 2019

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

    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