‘I Get High With a Little Help From My Friends’ - How Raves Can Invoke Identity Fusion and Lasting Co-operation via Transformative Experiences

Martha Newson, Ragini Khurana, Freya Cazorla, Valerie van Mulukom

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    11 Citations (Scopus)
    95 Downloads (Pure)


    Psychoactive drugs have been central to many human group rituals throughout modern human evolution. Despite such experiences often being inherently social, bonding and associated prosocial behaviors have rarely been empirically tested as an outcome. Here we investigate a novel measure of the mechanisms that generate altered states of consciousness during group rituals, the 4Ds: dance, drums, sleep deprivation, and drugs. We conducted a retrospective online survey examining experiences at a highly ritualized cultural phenomenon where drug use is relatively uninhibited- raves and illegal free parties. Engaging in the 4Ds at raves or free parties was associated with personal transformation for those who experienced the event as awe-inspiring, especially for people with open personalities (n = 481). Without awe, or a ritual context, indulging in the 4Ds was associated with a lack of personal growth, or anomie. A complex SEM revealed that personal transformation following awe-inspiring raves was associated with bonding to other ravers and prosocial behavior toward this group at a cost to self in a simple economic game. Bonding to humanity was not associated with these events. The findings suggest that employing the 4Ds in a ritualized environment - particularly dancing and drug use – can help build meaningful social bonds with associated positive behavioral outcomes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number719596
    Number of pages18
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © Copyright © 2021 Newson, Khurana, Cazorla and van Mulukom.


    UKRI Future Leader’s Fellowship grant awarded to MN (MR/T041099/1).


    • 4Ds
    • awe experiences
    • dance
    • identity fusion
    • psychedelics
    • rave
    • social bonding
    • transformative experiences

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)


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