The Ties That Bind Us

  title={The Ties That Bind Us},
  author={Harvey Whitehouse and Jonathan A. Lanman},
  journal={Current Anthropology},
  pages={674 - 695}
Most social scientists endorse some version of the claim that participating in collective rituals promotes social cohesion. The systematic testing and evaluation of this claim, however, has been prevented by a lack of precision regarding the nature of both “ritual” and “social cohesion” as well as a lack of integration between the theories and findings of the social and evolutionary sciences. By directly addressing these challenges, we argue that a systematic investigation and evaluation of the… Expand
Ingredients of ‘rituals’ and their cognitive underpinnings
This article identifies four mechanisms that each appear in some ‘rituals’, namely the normative scripting of actions; the use of interactions to signal coalitional identity, affiliation, cohesiveness, and magical claims based on intuitive expectations of contagion. Expand
Ritual and Religion as Social Technologies of Cooperation
This chapter takes as its point of departure the influential French sociologist Émile Durkheim’s view that religion and ritual are inherently social phenomena (Durkheim, 1912/1965). Although weExpand
Shared Negative Experiences Lead to Identity Fusion via Personal Reflection
Three studies provide evidence that shared negative experience leads to identity fusion, and that this process involves personal reflection, and are replicated among Bostonians, looking at their experiences of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. Expand
Religion and Morality
It is argued that to make progress, the categories “religion” and “morality” must be fractionated into a set of biologically and psychologically cogent traits, revealing the cognitive foundations that shape and constrain relevant cultural variants. Expand
Twenty-five years in : Landmark empirical findings in the cognitive science of religion 1
Religious studies’ collective advocacy on behalf of diversity and inclusion stands in poignant contrast to its persisting exclusionary ethos (within most quarters of the field) concerning questionsExpand
The evolution of extreme cooperation via shared dysphoric experiences
A mathematical model shows how conditioning cooperation on previous shared experience can allow individually costly pro-group behavior to evolve, and empirical results show that sharing painful experiences produces “identity fusion” – a visceral sense of oneness – which in turn can motivate self-sacrifice, including willingness to fight and die for the group. Expand
Breaking Disciplinary Walls in the Examination of Anzac as Religion
Anzac was first proposed as Australia’s civil religion in the 1960s. Since then, comparisons with conventional religion—the presence of ritual, music, and movement; the deification of symbolicExpand
Religion: costs, signals, and the Neolithic transition
ABSTRACT This paper extends the picture developed in Religion Re-Explained (Sterelny, 2018) to groups in transition from egalitarian to inegalitarian social environments, “big men” societies andExpand
The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ritual
Convergent developments across social scientific disciplines provide evidence that ritual is a psychologically prepared, culturally inherited, behavioral trademark of our species. We draw on evidenceExpand
Religion, Empathy, and Cooperation: A Case Study in the Promises and Challenges of Modeling and Simulation
The Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is developing a sophisticated naturalistic account of religion, grounded in empirical research. However, there are limitations to establishing an empiricalExpand


Social identity theory: A conceptual and empirical critique from the perspective of a behavioural interaction model
After a conceptual and methodological critique of Social Identity Theory (SIT), it is argued, in sharp contrast to SIT but consistent with a Behavioural Interaction Model (BIM), that the allocationsExpand
The Importance of Religious Displays for Belief Acquisition and Secularization
Both the sociology and the cognitive science of religion seek to explain the acquisition of religious beliefs. In this article, I offer an account of the acquisition and distribution of religiousExpand
Who is this "We"? Levels of collective identity and self representations.
Cross-cultural perspectives have brought renewed interest in the social aspects of the self and the extent to which individuals define themselves in terms of their relationships to others and toExpand
How Do Rituals Affect Cooperation?
This analysis offers the first quantitative evidence for the long-standing anthropological conjecture that rituals orchestrate body motions and sacred values to support prosociality and adds precision to this old conjecture with evidence of a specific mechanism. Expand
Planet of the Durkheimians : Where Community , Authority , and Sacredness Are Foundations of Morality
Most academic efforts to understand morality and ideology come from theorists who limit the domain of morality to issues related to harm and fairness. For such theorists, conservative beliefs areExpand
The evolution of costly displays, cooperation and religion: credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution
This paper lays out an evolutionary theory for the cognitive foundations and cultural emergence of the extravagant displays (e.g., ritual mutilation, animal sacrifice and martyrdom) that have soExpand
The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions
Competition among societies and organizations with different faith-based beliefs and practices has increasingly connected religion with both within-group prosociality and between-group enmity, and this connection has strengthened dramatically in recent millennia. Expand
Religious Ritual and Cooperation: Testing for a Relationship on Israeli Religious and Secular Kibbutzim1
Anthropologists have long noted that one of the primary functions of religion is to promote group solidarity, and most have recognized ritual as the mechanism through which this solidarity isExpand
On the nature of identity fusion: insights into the construct and a new measure.
A measure designed to capture feelings of connectedness and reciprocal strength with the group, and predicted endorsement of extreme progroup behaviors with greater fidelity than did an earlier pictorial measure of identity fusion, which was, in turn, superior to a measure of group identification. Expand
Modes of religiosity at Çatalhöyük
Introduction Social and cultural phenomena are organized and transmitted in highly patterned ways. Understanding the nature and causes of these patterns can help us to reconstruct some features ofExpand