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Accidental Atheists? Agent-Based Explanations for the Persistence of Religious Regionalism

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This article outlines a new approach to the study of religious commitment. Starting with a variant on Schelling's classic model of mobility and segregation, we develop a multi-agent religion simulation (MARS) that incorporates insights from theories of religious choice, social influence, and preference formation. Compared to standard statistical methods, MARS does a better job of linking individual choices and collective outcomes. In particular, it demonstrates that stable regional patterns require a balanced combination of attachment to personal identity and adaptation to the social environment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Laurence R. Iannaccone is Koch Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030., Email: 2: Michael Makowsky is a Ph. D. candidate and Earhart Fellow in the Department of Economics at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030., Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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