Positive experiences of high arousal martial arts rituals are linked to identity fusion and costly pro-group actions

Christopher M. Kavanagh, Jonathan Jong, Ryan McKay, Harvey Whitehouse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A cross-sectional study was conducted with 605 practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) to test the hypothesis that high arousal rituals promote social cohesion, primarily through identity fusion. BJJ promotion rituals are rare, highly emotional ritual events that often feature gruelling belt-whipping gauntlets. We used the variation in such experiences to examine whether more gruelling rituals were associated with identity fusion and pro-group behaviour. We found no differences between those who had undergone belt-whipping and those who had not and no evidence of a correlation between pain and social cohesion. However, across the full sample we found that positive, but not negative, affective experiences of promotional rituals were associated with identity fusion and that this mediated pro-group action. These findings provide new evidence concerning the social functions of collective rituals and highlight the importance of addressing the potentially diverging subjective experiences of painful rituals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)461-481
    Number of pages21
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume49
    Issue number3
    Early online date3 Aug 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

    Keywords

    • dysphoric arousal
    • group bonding
    • identity fusion
    • martial arts
    • ritual

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology

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