Department of Anthropology and Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut
Around the world, people engage in ritual activities that involve obvious expenditures of effort, energy and resources without equally obvious payoffs. Anthropologists have long proposed that such costly behaviors persist because they convey certain benefits to their practitioners and their communities. But how can we study these ostensible benefits, given the contextually sensitive nature of such cultural practices? This talk will present an interdisciplinary research program that combines laboratory and field methods to explore the puzzle of extreme rituals in real-life settings, specifically focusing on recent empirical evidence on the signaling functions of extreme ritual practices.
Extreme Rituals as Social Technologies