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Ritual morphospace revisited: the form, function and factor structure of ritual practice.

Kapitany

Ritual morphospace revisited: the form, function and factor structure of ritual practice. Thumbnail


Authors

Kapitany



Abstract

Human rituals exhibit bewildering diversity, from the Mauritian Kavadi to Catholic communion. Is this diversity infinitely plastic or are there some general dimensions along which ritual features vary? We analyse two cross-cultural datasets: one drawn from the anthropological record and another novel contemporary dataset, to examine whether a consistent underlying set of latent dimensions in ritual structure and experiences can be detected. First, we conduct a factor analysis on 651 rituals from 74 cultural groups, in which 102 binary variables are coded. We find a reliable set of dimensions emerged, which provide potential candidates for foundational elements of ritual form. Notably, we find that the expression of features associated with dysphoric and euphoric experiences in rituals appears to be largely orthogonal. Second, we follow-up with a pre-registered factor analysis examining contemporary ritual experiences of 779 individuals from Japan, India and the US. We find supporting evidence that ritual experiences are clustered in relatively orthogonal euphoric, dysphoric, frequency and cognitive dimensions. Our findings suggest that there are important regularities in the diversity of ritual expression and experience observed across both time and culture. We discuss the implications of these findings for cognitive theories of ritual and cultural evolution. This article is part of the theme issue 'Ritual renaissance: new insights into the most human of behaviours'.

Citation

Kapitany. (2020). Ritual morphospace revisited: the form, function and factor structure of ritual practice. Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences, 20190436 - ?. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0436

Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2020
Publication Date Jun 29, 2020
Journal Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8436
Publisher The Royal Society
Pages 20190436 - ?
DOI https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0436
Keywords cross-cultural; emotion; cultural evolution; anthropology; ritual modes; ritual
Publisher URL https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2019.0436

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