Ritual and Group Cohesion (Public Lecture)

Field research in anthropology has generated some compelling hypotheses about the role of ritual in creating group cohesion and fuelling intergroup conflict. In recent years, efforts have been made to test many of those hypotheses scientifically. This talk provides an overview of research conducted at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford (CAM) (https://camoxford.org), using a range of methods, from carefully controlled psychological experiments to the analysis of large longitudinal datasets. This research suggests that rituals not only demarcate cultural groups but varying the frequency and emotionality of collective rituals produces different scales and intensities of group alignment, suited to addressing distinct kinds of collective action problems.