When novel rituals impact intergroup bias: Evidence from economic games and neurophysiology
43 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016 Last revised: 27 Mar 2017
Date Written: September 6, 2016
Long-established rituals in pre-existing cultural groups have been linked to the cultural evolution of group cooperation. Here we test the prediction that novel rituals – arbitrary hand and body gestures enacted in a stereotypical and repeated fashion – can impact intergroup bias in newly formed groups. In four studies, participants practiced novel rituals at home for one week (Experiments 1, 2, 4) or once in the lab (pre-registered Experiment 3), and were divided into minimal ingroups and outgroups. Our results offer mixed support for the hypothesis that novel rituals promote intergroup bias. A modest effect for daily repeated rituals but a null effect for rituals enacted only once suggests that novel rituals can inculcate bias, but only when certain features are present: rituals must be sufficiently elaborate and repeated to impact bias. Taken together, our results offer modest support for the influence of novel rituals on intergroup bias.
Keywords: Ritual; Intergroup Dynamics; Intergroup Bias; Cooperation; Neural Reward Processing
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