Rituals: Our Symbolic Behaviours

Before, during or after an important event, we often perform symbolic behaviours, or rituals, that are of different shapes and forms. These acts often look superstitious and irrational. Many are practised in either a communal setting or in complete solitude.

The desired outcomes for these rituals can be to remove anxiety, boost confidence, or for improved performance in a competition. The surprising thing is that rituals are more rational and scientific than they appear on the surface, and are also effective.

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Why Rituals Work

scientificamerican.com

Certain formulaic rituals, called Simpatias, involve a number of steps and repetition to solve problems like curing asthma, quitting smoking or minimizing bad luck.

Performing a step-by-step ritual with the clear intention to produce a specific result is often sufficient for the result to appear, even though there is no direct causal connection between the two, making the ancient phenomenon of rituals an intriguing one.

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