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Extreme Rituals Promote Prosociality

Extreme Rituals Promote Prosociality

Psychological ScienceShort Report Extreme rituals entail excessive costs without apparentbenefits, which raises an evolutionary cost problem(Irons, 2001). It is argued that such intense rituals enhancesocial cohesion and promote cooperative behaviors(Atran & Henrich, 2010; Durkheim, 1912). However,direct evidence for the relation between ritual intensityand prosociality is lacking. Using economic measuresof generosity and contextually relevant indicators ofgroup identity in a real-world setting, we evaluated pro-social effects from naturally occurring rituals that variedin severity. 

Via Alessandro Cerboni
FastTFriend's insight:

"These results suggest that costly displays of group commitment (though apparently wasteful) may be conserved because they intensify pro-social behaviors and attitudes among the wider community (Henrich, 2009; Sosis & Bressler, 2003)."

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Read of the day: Social evolution: The ritual animal

Read of the day: Social evolution: The ritual animal | cognition |
Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization.



As an example of how rituals can cause values and preferences to become sacralized, Atran points to his studies showing that, in the United States, people who attend church more frequently are more likely to consider the right to bear arms a sacred value11.

“Emotionally intense rituals have bound us together and pitted us against our enemies throughout the history of our species,” says Whitehouse. “It was only when nomadic foragers began to settle down did we discover the possibilities for establishing much larger societies based on frequently repeated creeds and rituals.”

The big question, he says, is whether this kind of unity can be extended to humanity at large. For Whitehouse, understanding the ways that rituals shape group behaviour is the first step towards finding out how they can be harnessed to dampen down conflict between groups. He hopes that such insights could help policy-makers to “establish new forms of peaceful cooperation, as well as bringing down dictators”.

Via Wildcat2030
Wildcat2030's curator insight, January 24, 2013 8:19 AM

An important step in understanding civilization and modern culture

Valentin Chirosca's curator insight, January 27, 2013 6:52 AM

same areas have same rituals...