Dr Rohan Kapitány

Keele Psychology Seminar Series

The Evolution of Ritual: origins, structure, and functions

Dr Rohan Kapitány, lecturer at the School of Psychology (Keele University) will deliver a talk as part of the Keele Psychology Seminar Series.

Abstract: Rituals are an integral part of culture, and they require a complex suite of perceptual, cognitive, and social cognitions. And yet, they did not spring forth de novo. In this discussion, Dr. Kapitány will outline the prominent contemporary theories of ritual as described by psychological science, and discuss how and why the cognitions that support modern ritual arose in historic time. Presented alongside this will be a discussion of how the form of ritual acts emerged and changed over the same period. The tentative conclusion presented will be that most irreducible aspects of ritual cognition emerged around 300,000 years ago with the emergence of normative over-imitation (a developmental phenomenon), and expanded to include non-symbolic social and identity components probably not earlier than around ~25,000 years ago. An argument will be made that modern theories of psychology (on any given topic) are greatly improved when we consider the archaeological, anthropological, and historic context of our psychological constructs.

Bio: Rohan Kapitány earned his PhD at the University of Queensland, under Associate Professor Mark Nielsen. There he began his research linking over-imitation and ritual, and the ways in which ritualised actions influence our perception of objects. He later joined Professor Harvey Whitehouse at Oxford University, where he continued similar work, and expanded his range of investigative topics to include elements of social identity, and causal cognition. He joined Keele University at the end of 2019. He is currently exploring these topics, and is increasingly interested in using Virtual Reality to study these complex social phenomenon. 

To attend, please book your free ticket on Eventbrite, using the link below. By booking your ticket, you will allow us to guarantee your place at the talk.

Event date
Event Time
Keele Psychology
Contact email
Contact telephone

Book event