Date

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Adviser

Gill, Michael J.

Other advisers/committee members

Marsh, Jessecae

Abstract

The study of ritual has focused on its ability to facilitate feelings of connection, enhancing the social bonds between participants. Here, we propose that rituals can also serve to intensify monetary valuations of objects that are central to the ritual. We hypothesized that rituals, in general, will enhance valuations of ritual objects, but the nature of those ritual actions will determine the valence of that enhancement (e.g. whether the valuations are more positive or more negative). We tested this hypothesis in a series of three studies. In the first study, we used an existing individual ritual paradigm to determine the effect of different ritual actions (disgust, savor and neutral) on valuations of a ritual object. In the second study, we drew upon the idea of ritual as group phenomenon and developed a new ritual paradigm to examine differences between positive and negative ritual actions as a function of individual and group rituals on valuations of a ritual object. In the third study, we manipulated similarity to fellow ritual participants in order to more directly examine the relationship between feelings of group connectedness and valuations of ritual objects. Overall, results indicated that the ritual object was assigned the highest monetary value by participants in the `negative' ritual conditions. Possible explanations and future directions are discussed.

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