Variation and Persistence in Latin American Beliefs About Evil Eye

Susan C. Weller, Roberta D. Baer, Javier Garcia de Alba Garcia, Mark Glazer, Robert Trotter, Ana L. Salcedo Rocha, Robert E. Klein, Lee M. Pachter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In a comparative study of evil eye (mal de ojo), we demonstrate a methodology appropriate for the study of cultural transmission of beliefs. We studied four diverse populations with historical links to Spain: Puerto Ricans in Connecticut, Mexican Americans in south Texas, Mexicans in Guadalajara, and rural Guatemalans. Using agreement on ideas or themes about evil eye within and across sites, we identify specific ideas that may have persisted through time. The relevance of specific themes was estimated with a cultural consensus analysis. Mal de ojo was widely recognized in each community and higher community prevalence was associated with higher agreement on reported causes, symptoms, and treatments. Each community exhibited a distinct model for ojo, although models were highly similar between sites. Agreement among individuals and across communities suggests a pan-regional description for mal de ojo and possible content of older versions of these beliefs in Latin America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-203
Number of pages30
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2015


  • Latin America/Latino
  • age–area hypothesis
  • consensus model
  • evil eye
  • mal de ojo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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