New article out, preprint available.
Ritual, identity fusion, and the inauguration of president Trump: a pseudo-experiment of ritual modes theory
Kapitány, R., Kavanagh, C., Buhrmester, M., Newson, M., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Ritual, Identity Fusion, and the Inauguration of President Trump: A pseudo-experiment of Ritual Modes theory. Self and Identity (in press). DOI:10.1080/15298868.2019.1578686
The US Presidential Inauguration is a symbolic event which arouses significant emotional responses among diverse groups, and is of considerable significance to Americans’ personal and social identities. We argue that the inauguration qualifies as an Imagistic Ritual. Such ritual experiences are thought to produce identity fusion: a visceral sense of oneness with the group. The 2017 Inauguration of President Trump was a unique opportunity to examine how a large-scale naturalistic imagistic ritual influences the social identities of Americans who supported and opposed President Trump. We conducted a pre-registered 7-week longitudinal investigation among a sample of Americans to examine how President Trump’s Inauguration influenced identity fusion. We predicted that the affective responses to the inauguration would predict positive changes in fusion, mediated by self-reflection. We did not find support for this. However, the inauguration was associated with flashbulb-like memories, and positive emotions at the time of the event predicted changes in fusion to both ingroup and outgroup targets. Finally, both positive and negative emotional responses inspired self-reflection, but did not mediate the relationship with fusion. We discuss the implications for models linking group psychology, fusion theory, and ritual modes.