ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (8): 1870-1882.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01870

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The mechanism of collective ritual promoting group emotional contagion

LIU Chunxiao, LIU Lizhi, Wang Dan, CHEN Wenfeng()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, 100872, China
  • Received:2021-07-14 Online:2022-08-15 Published:2022-06-23
  • Contact: CHEN Wenfeng


Recently, group emotional contagion has attracted much interest among the scholars of emotional contagion, focusing on the interactive process of emotional contagion among group members. It contains not only direct emotional contagion between two individual, but also the process of group identity, common behavior, collective rules. In addition to inter-individual emotional contagion, group emotional contagion involves two unique emotional outcomes—"emotion cycles" and "collective effervescence". To clarify the occurrence and enhancement process of group emotional contagion, this review associates the three elements of collective ritual (i.e., synchronized actions, shared attention, and shared meaning) and group emotional contagion. Then, the potential mechanisms of collective ritual on group emotional contagion is summarized.

First, redundant, repetitive and synchronized actions, as well as shared attention and meaning in collective rituals can trigger the processes related to self-representation. On the one hand, the "self-referential effect" pushes individuals to project personal characteristics into the group, leading to "self-anchoring". On the other hand, collective rituals are characterized by ambiguous causality, but with symbolized social norms embodied. During the process of collective rituals, individuals tend to rely on symbolized social norms to represent themselves, and thus the self-stereotype occurs. As a result, the group identities based on self-anchoring and self-stereotyping is facilitated.

Second, strong sense of belonging to the group promotes integrated identity, thereby blurring the boundaries between the individual self and the social self. Highly integrated individuals will experience a transformation of self-representation, from the individual self to the relational self or the collective self (emphasizing group identity), so that an individual will be more closely connected with the group. The group identity generated by collective rituals leads individuals to regard emotion senders as a part of the group and more likely to interpret emotional signals as positive, leading to a larger possibility of emotional mimicry in this context. Emotional imitation under collective ritual produces an emotional experience based on identity, which ultimately enables group emotion to spread on a larger scale.

In conclusion, collective rituals enhance group identity through self-stereotyping and self-anchoring. Integrated identity basing on group identity makes individuals pay more attention to group identity, which further leads individuals to transform the individual self into social self and more prone to accepting the group's opinions and emotions. Future studies should further investigate the influencing factors of group emotional contagion and enrich its measurement methods.

Key words: collective ritual, group emotional contagion, group identity, intergroup emotional theory, self- representation

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