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Eye See You: Investigating Predictors of the Evil Eye

  • Author(s): Zoeller, Madeleine Louise
  • Advisor(s): Manson, Joseph H
  • et al.
Abstract

The evil eye is a folk belief concept whereby an individual may, voluntarily or involuntarily, cause harm by praising or looking at an object or person. This belief is old and relatively stable, but it is not ubiquitous across cultures, or even within groups that do contain this belief. Utilizing a trans-disciplinary approach, I discuss how environment, social precepts, and the core cognitive architecture may contribute to the persistence of the evil eye belief in contemporary Poland, Portugal, France, and Spain. To test a portion of my argument, I administered a survey measuring hypothesized risk factors for evil eye belief. While I find support for a subset of my hypotheses, my principal conclusion is that the factors predicting between-group variance in the existence of the evil eye belief likely dissociate from predictors of within-group variance in psychological and behavioral endorsement of the evil eye belief.

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