Dimitris Xygalatas

I am an anthropologist and cognitive scientist who studies some of the peculiar aspects of human nature. I am particularly interested in religion, ritual, sports fanship, and other things that help people connect, cope with anxiety, and live meaningful lives.

After receiving my PhD from the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast, I held positions at the universities of Princeton, Aarhus, and Masaryk, where I served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA).


In 2014, I joined the University of Connecticut, where I am currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Psychological Sciences and head of the Experimental Anthropology Lab.

For my research, I combine scientific methods and technologies with ethnographic fieldwork. I have conducted several years of field work in Southern Europe and Mauritius, studying the psychological and social effects of extreme rituals and developing a methodology for studying such rituals experimentally in their natural context.

I have served as President of the International Association for the Cognitive and Evolutionary Sciences of Religion

Before becoming a full-time academic, I worked as a translator, photographer, and book editor (and of course a waiter).