The Psychology of Rituals: An Integrative Review and Process-Based Framework

86 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2017

See all articles by Nicholas Hobson

Nicholas Hobson

University of Toronto

Juliana Schroeder

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Jane Risen

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Dimitris Xygalatas

University of Connecticut

Michael Inzlicht

University of Toronto

Date Written: March 31, 2017

Abstract

Traditionally, ritual has been studied from broad sociocultural perspectives, with little consideration of the psychological processes at play. Recently, however, psychologists have begun turning their attention to the study of ritual, uncovering the causal mechanisms driving this universal aspect of human behavior. With growing interest in the psychology of ritual, the current paper provides an organizing framework to understand recent empirical work from social psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience. Our framework focuses on three primary regulatory functions of rituals: regulation of (1) social connection, (2) emotions, and (3) performance goal states. We examine the possible mechanisms underlying each function by considering the bottom-up processes that emerge from the physical features of rituals and top-down processes that emerge from the psychological meaning of rituals. Our framework, by appreciating the value of psychological theory, generates novel predictions and enriches our understanding of ritual and human behavior more broadly.

Keywords: ritual, psychology, self-regulation, social cognition, motivation, group functioning

Suggested Citation

Hobson, Nicholas and Schroeder, Juliana and Risen, Jane and Xygalatas, Dimitris and Inzlicht, Michael, The Psychology of Rituals: An Integrative Review and Process-Based Framework (March 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944235 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2944235

Nicholas Hobson (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

Psychology Department
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada
4168999218 (Phone)

Juliana Schroeder

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jane Risen

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Dimitris Xygalatas

University of Connecticut ( email )

Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Michael Inzlicht

University of Toronto ( email )

Department of Psychology
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.michaelinzlicht.com

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