Hyper Agency Detection (HAD) as Building Block of Religious Cognition – A Humorous Introduction
Among the many things Charles Darwin got right about evolution, his definitions and theses concerning the evolution of religious beliefs and behaviors deserve special attention. For example, the learned theologian observed his dog growling at moving objects, assuming possible "agency" as a possible building block of early religious cognition.
Contemporary psychologists agree. There is a overdetection of agency, frequently called Hyper-Agency Detection (HAD) in animal and human cognition. And this is not very surprising from an evolutionary perspective: It is far better for survival and reproduction to repeatedly assume agency when there is none as to assume there is none when there is. In terms of evolutionary theory, agency is more "relevant" to detect.
A great one-minute cartoon from Birdbox Studio is emphasizing the very point (enjoy! ):
And as our mammalian and hominid ancestors evolved in a thickly social environment, it was not enough to (hyper-)detect agency but also to form rapid assumptions about others inclinations - that is: to form intuitive TOMs (theories of mind).
If you manage not to perceive and feel anything spontaneously while looking at the next picture (which I am using regularly in lecturing and teaching), then, and only then would I concede that you did not inherit any cognitions as a "homo religiosus".