The power of rituals to shape people’s behaviours

From Andrew Newberg

Video Interview Transcript

We talk about these negative emotions and the idea of dehumanizing another person or making somebody seem unreal. It does take time and takes time to develop those beliefs. And that's part of where rituals come into play. In rituals as my colleague and I always used to say they are a morally neutral technology. Rituals can be used to engender enormous compassion and love among people. We can all be part of this ritual. We can all be part of a wonderful group filled with love and perhaps even that ritual can extend even though we may be a small group it may extend to all of humanity. And so just because we're a small group doesn't mean we can't feel connected to all of humanity. On the other hand rituals can become incredibly negative and if you keep people in a very limited way and you infuse it with a lot of hatred and anger then you the way our brain works is that it sets us up to continue to feel that and to feel that we're threatened. So we kind of wrap ourselves into our own little system that anything outside of that system is viewed in extremely negative kinds of ways that can lead to these kinds of violent behaviors.

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