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  • Cited by 7
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Loewenthal, Kate Miriam 2018. The OCD – religion package: might it relate to the rise of spirituality?. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 123.

    Reinhart, Katrinka 2015. Religion, Violence, and Emotion: Modes of Religiosity in the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Northern China. Journal of World Prehistory, Vol. 28, Issue. 2, p. 113.

    Smeets, Wim 2012. Identity and Spiritual Care. Journal of Empirical Theology, Vol. 25, Issue. 1, p. 22.

    Whitehouse, Harvey Kahn, Ken Hochberg, Michael E. and Bryson, Joanna J. 2012. The role for simulations in theory construction for the social sciences: case studies concerning Divergent Modes of Religiosity. Religion, Brain & Behavior, Vol. 2, Issue. 3, p. 182.

    Alcorta, Candace S. and Sosis, Richard 2005. Ritual, emotion, and sacred symbols. Human Nature, Vol. 16, Issue. 4, p. 323.

    Emmons, Robert A. and Paloutzian, Raymond F. 2003. The Psychology of Religion. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 54, Issue. 1, p. 377.

    Weiss Ozorak, Elizabeth 2003. COMMENTARY: Culture, Gender, Faith:The Social Construction of the Person-God Relationship. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, Vol. 13, Issue. 4, p. 249.

  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: December 2009

5 - Ritual, memory and emotion: comparing two cognitive hypotheses


Without systems of public, external symbols for recording information, nonliterate communities have to rely on human memory for the retention and transmission of cultural knowledge. Religious expressions either evolved in directions that rendered them memorable or they were – quite literally – forgotten. Most religious systems, including all of the great world religions, emerged among populations that were mostly illiterate (even if there was a literate elite). Thus, it should come as no surprise that religious systems and ritual systems, in particular, have evolved so as to exploit variables that facilitate memory. The empirical evidence suggests that the invention of literacy may sometimes ameliorate these variables' influence; however, the availability of such cultural tools neither eliminates that influence nor even surmounts it. The cognitive dynamics at stake are not only pervasive, they are also far older and far more fundamental to the persistence of religion than these comparatively recent cultural overlays. The rituals of the literate exhibit the same patterns and general trends as those of the nonliterate.

Experimental psychologists have clarified variables that contribute to extraordinary recall for events that arise in the normal course of life. Probably, the most obvious is frequency. Experiencing events of the same type frequently aids memory for that type of event, though not necessarily for the details of any of the particular instances of that type. When Jains carry out the Pūja ritual day after day, they become adept at its performance. Although they are fluent with the ritual's details, it is possible that they do not remember even one of their previous performances distinctively.

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Religion in Mind
  • Online ISBN: 9780511586330
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