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Why ritual works: A rejection of the by-product hypothesis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2007

Candace Storey Alcorta
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Unit 2176, Storrs, CT 06269-2176; candace.alcorta@uconn.edu
Richard Sosis
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Unit 2176, Storrs, CT 06269-2176; candace.alcorta@uconn.edu Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. richard.sosis@uconn.eduwww.anth.uconn.edu/faculty/sosis/

Abstract

We argue that ritual is not a by-product as Boyer & Lienard (B&L) claim, but rather an evolved adaptation for social communication that facilitates non-agonistic social interactions among non-kin. We review the neurophysiological effects of ritual and propose neural structures and networks beyond the cortical-striato-pallidal-thalamic circuit (CSPT) likely to be implicated in ritual. The adaptationist approach to ritual offers a more parsimonious model for understanding these effects as well as the findings B&L present.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
2007 Cambridge University Press

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