Human Nature 24 (2):115-125 (2013)

Abstract
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
Keywords Cooperation  Entitativity  Evolution  Religion  Ritual  Sacred values
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DOI 10.1007/s12110-013-9167-y
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking the Unthinkable: Sacred Values and Taboo Cognitions.Philip E. Tetlock - 2003 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (7):320-324.
Why Aren’T We All Hutterites?Richard Sosis - 2003 - Human Nature 14 (2):91-127.

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Lo Ritual y Lo Moral.Robert Spaemann - 2001 - Anuario Filosófico 34 (71):655-672.
Why Aren’T We All Hutterites?Richard Sosis - 2003 - Human Nature 14 (2):91-127.

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