Modelling Cultural Transmission of Rituals: An Agent-Based Model Contrasting Social Function and Cognitive Attraction

Authors

KAŠE Vojtěch HAMPEJS Tomáš

Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description What is the role of social function and the role of cognitive attraction as factors driving the cultural transmission of rituals? In our paper, we address this question with the method of agent-based modelling (ABM). Drawing on our historical work concerning the development of early Christian meals from ordinary Graeco-Roman banquets to goal-demoted magical practices, we introduce a model informed both by ancient historical context and recent experimental findings. We want to extend and combine results of current behavioral experiments exploring the calusal mechanisms of panhuman sociality and cognition with historical study of long-term cultural processes. In that respect, the ABM represents a valuable integrative tool. There is a broad evidence that participation in collective rituals promotes social cohesion among the participants. However, at least some aspects characterizing ritualized behavior do not contribute to this function. These aspects advances perceived supernaturally efficacy of rituals. Although both the social and efficacious aspects of rituals contribute to the process of cultural selection of particular ritual forms, it is clear they operate differently. While the advantage of ritual forms producing social cohesion roots in their impact on properties and size of personal social network, the rituals perceived as more efficacious gain their advantage by motivating participants to attend them repeatedly regardless the social impact. We design and evaluate a historically informed model contrasting these factors in order to explore their relative importance in cultural transmission.
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