The cultural evolutionary trade-off of ritualistic synchrony.
From Australia to the Arctic, human groups engage in synchronous behaviour during communal rituals. Because ritualistic synchrony is widespread, many argue that it is functional for human groups, encouraging large-scale cooperation and group cohesion. Here, we offer a more nuanced perspective on synchrony's function. We review research on synchrony's prosocial effects, but also discuss synchrony's antisocial effects such as encouraging group conflict, decreasing group creativity and increasing harmful obedience. We further argue that a tightness-looseness (TL) framework helps to explain this trade-off and generates new predictions for how ritualistic synchrony should evolve over time, where it should be most prevalent, and how it should affect group well-being. We close by arguing that synthesizing the literature on TL with the literature on synchrony has promise for understanding synchrony's role in a broader cultural evolutionary framework. This article is part of the theme issue 'Ritual renaissance: new insights into the most human of behaviours'.
Gelfand, MJ; Caluori, N; Jackson, JC; Taylor, MK
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