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Azim Shariff

Azim Shariff profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-4963
  • Office: 473 Straub Hall
  • Interests: Social/Personality, Religion, Morality, Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology
  • Website: Website

Research Interests and Publications

Dr. Shariff's primary line of research explores the evolutionary origins of and psychological mechanisms underlying moral/pro-social behavior, with a special focus on the positive and negative social consequences of religions and related cultural systems. Questions that are covered include: How does religion encourage generosity, honesty, prejudice and conflict? What are the psychological and social consequences of different religious (and secular) beliefs and rituals? What functions did religious and secular cultural institutions emerge to serve and how do they adapt in modern society?

Dr. Shariff is no longer accepting new graduate students.

Websites: and

Dr. Shariff also has ongoing research interest in the following (example research questions in parentheses):

-Free will, Determinism and Mechanistic Thinking (e.g. how will shifting views of human agency and psychology affect social behavior?)

-The Evolutionary Psychology of Emotion (e.g. how do emotion expressions unknowingly bias our social interactions?)

Selected Publications 

Shariff, A.F., & Rhemtulla, M. (2012). Divergent effects of heaven and hell beliefs on national crime. PLoS One, 7(6), e39048.

Shariff, A.F., & Tracy, J.L. (2011). What are emotion expressions for? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 395-399.

Shariff, A.F., & Tracy, J.L. (2009). Knowing Who’s Boss: Implicit Perceptions of Status from the Nonverbal Expression of Pride. Emotion, 9(5), 631-639.

Norenzayan, A. & Shariff, A.F. (2008) The Origin and Evolution of Religious Prosociality. Science, 322 (5898), 58-62.

Shariff, A.F., & Norenzayan, A. (2007). God is watching you: Supernatural agent concepts increase prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game. Psychological Science, 18, 803-809.