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Will Gervais

Research Interests:
Supernatural beliefs

B. S., University of Denver, 2005
M. A., University of British Columbia, 2008
Ph. D., University of British Columbia, 2012


HEADS UP: I'm accepting applications for a new grad student to start in Fall 2018


I grew up in a small Colorado mountain town just a few minutes away from South Park county. I received my B. S. from the University of Denver before heading to Canada for grad school. I received both an M. A. and a Ph. D. from the University of British Columbia, where my dissertation work explored perceptions of atheists. 

I like camping, hiking, soccer, biking, and most other outdoor activities. I'm a pretty good cook, and (thanks to some friends from grad school) an aspiring oenophile.


Unlike British comedian Ricky Gervais - no relation, as far as I know - I don't pronounce the "s" in Gervais. So phonetically, it's jer-vay.


I'm a hybrid evolutionary and cultural psychologist who is interested in why people believe what they believe about the world. Specifically, I'm interested in supernatural beliefs. Why does our species have religion? Why do most folks believe in some sort of a god? Why do other folks (almost a billion, by some estimates) not believe in any gods? What are the consequences of this (dis)belief in supernatural agents?

Graduate Training
I pursued my graduate studies in rainy Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Selected Publications:

Gervais, W. M. & Norenzayan, A. (2012). Analytic thinking promotes resligious disbelief. Science, 336, 493-496.

Gervais, W. M. & Norenzayan, A. (2012). Reminders of secular authority reduce believers' distrust of atheists. Psychological Science, 23, 483-491.

Gervais, W. M., Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2011). Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 1189-1206.