Advancing the Cognitive Science of Religion through Replication and Open Science


  • Suzanne Hoogeveen University of Amsterdam
  • Michiel van Elk Leiden University



open science, replication, cognitive science of religion


The Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is a relatively young but prolific field that has offered compelling insights into religious minds and practices. However, many empirical findings within this field are still preliminary and their reliability remains to be determined. In this paper, we first argue that it is crucial to critically evaluate the CSR literature and adopt  open science practices and replication research in particular to move the field forward. Second, we highlight the outcomes of previous replications and make suggestions for future replication studies in the CSR, with a particular focus on neuroscience, developmental psychology, and qualitative research. Finally, we provide a “replication script” with advice on how to select, conduct, and organize replication research. Our approach is illustrated with a “glimpse behind the scenes” of the recently launched Cross-Cultural Religious Replication Project, in the hope of inspiring scholars of religion to embrace open science and replication in their own research.

Author Biographies

Suzanne Hoogeveen, University of Amsterdam

Suzanne Hoogeveen, Department of Social Psychology, PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Michiel van Elk, Leiden University

Michiel van Elk obtained degrees in philosophy (MA), biological psychology (MSc) and the psychology of religion (MSc) in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Nijmegen. He completed his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen (cum laude). He worked as a visiting researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara (2010), as a Marie Curie post-dotoral fellow at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (2010-2012), as a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (2017), as a Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Amsterdam (2019-2010) and as a researcher at the University of Amsterdam (2013-2020). Since 2020 Michiel is affiliated to the University of Leiden and supported by grants from the Templeton Foundation, NWO and the BIAL Foundation he supervises the Religion Cognition and Behavior Lab. Michiel has published several popular science books on such different topics as the Babybrain, the Evolution of Religion, Ecstatic Experiences and Psychedelics.


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How to Cite

Hoogeveen, S., & van Elk, M. (2021). Advancing the Cognitive Science of Religion through Replication and Open Science. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 6(1-2), 158–190.




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