How Do Rituals Affect Cooperation?
- 2.2k Downloads
Collective rituals have long puzzled anthropologists, yet little is known about how rituals affect participants. Our study investigated the effects of nine naturally occurring rituals on prosociality. We operationalized prosociality as (1) attitudes about fellow ritual participants and (2) decisions in a public goods game. The nine rituals varied in levels of synchrony and levels of sacred attribution. We found that rituals with synchronous body movements were more likely to enhance prosocial attitudes. We also found that rituals judged to be sacred were associated with the largest contributions in the public goods game. Path analysis favored a model in which sacred values mediate the effects of synchronous movements on prosocial behaviors. Our analysis offers the first quantitative evidence for the long-standing anthropological conjecture that rituals orchestrate body motions and sacred values to support prosociality. Our analysis, moreover, adds precision to this old conjecture with evidence of a specific mechanism: ritual synchrony increases perceptions of oneness with others, which increases sacred values to intensify prosocial behaviors.
KeywordsCooperation Entitativity Evolution Religion Ritual Sacred values
We are grateful to Diana Boer for her helpful comments. We are grateful to the editor of Human Nature, Jane Lancaster, and to four anonymous referees for their helpful comments and encouragement. For financial support, we are grateful to a Victoria University URF Grant 8-3046-108855.
- Atran, S. (2002). In Gods we trust: The evolutionary landscape of religion. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Denson, T. F., Lickel, B., Curtis, M., Stenstrom, D. M., & Ames, D. R. (2006). The roles of entitativity and essentiality in judgments of collective responsibility. Group Processes Intergroup Relations., 9(43), 41–61.Google Scholar
- Durkheim, E. (1995). The elementary forms of the religious life. New York: Free Press. Originally published in 1912.Google Scholar
- Ehrenreich, B. (2006). Dancing in the Streets. New York: Metropolitan.Google Scholar
- Fetterman, D. M. (1998). Ethnography (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Irons, W. (2001). Religion as hard-to-fake sign of commitment (pp. 292–309). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Jarvenpaa, S., Knoll, K., & Leidner, D. (1998). Is anybody out there? Antecedents of trust in global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 14, 29–64.Google Scholar
- Konvalinka, I., Xygalatas, D., Bulbulia, J., Schjodt, U., Jegindo, E. M., Wallot, S., et al. (2011). Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(20), 8514–8519. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016955108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lakens, D. (2010). Movement synchrony and perceived entitativity. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46, 701–708.Google Scholar
- Levitin, D. J. (2008). The world in six songs: How the musical brain created human nature. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
- McNeill, W. H. (1995). Keeping together in time: Dance and drill in human history. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Miles, L. K., Nind, L. K., & Macrae, C. N. (2009). The rhythm of rapport: interpersonal synchrony and social perception. Cognition, 190, 585–589.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. (1998–2010). Mplus User’s Guide, version 6. Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1922). The andaman islanders. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Schelling, T. (2006). Micromotives and Macrobehavior (Kindle edition). New York: W. W. Norton. Originally published in 1978.Google Scholar
- Whitehouse, H. (2004). Modes of religiosity: A cognitive theory of religious transmission. Lanham: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar