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In a classic theory, Durkheim (1912) predicted that because of the social sharing of emotion they generate, collective gatherings bring participants to a stage of collective effervescence in which they experience a sense of union with others and a feeling of empowerment accompanied by positive affect. This would lead them to leave the collective situation with a renewed sense of confidence in life and in social institutions. A century after Durkheim's predictions of these effects, though, they remained untested as a whole. This article reports 4 studies, 2 correlational, 1 semilongitudinal, and 1 experimental, assessing the positive effects of participation in either positively valenced (folkloric marches) or negatively valenced (protest demonstrations) collective gatherings. Results confirmed that collective gatherings consistently strengthened collective identity, identity fusion, and social integration, as well as enhancing personal and collective self-esteem and efficacy, positive affect, and positive social beliefs among participants. In line with a central tenet of the theory, emotional communion, or perceived emotional synchrony with others mediated these effects. Higher perceived emotional synchrony was associated with stronger emotional reactions, stronger social support, and higher endorsement of social beliefs and values. Participation in symbolic collective gatherings also particularly reinforced identity fusion when perceived emotional synchrony was high. The respective contributions of perceived emotional synchrony and flow, or optimal experience, were also assessed. Whereas perceived emotional synchrony emerged as strongly related to the various social outcomes, flow was observed to be related first to collective efficacy and self-esteem, and thus, to encompass mainly empowerment effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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Psychosocial effects of perceived emotional synchrony in collective gatherings
This is an expanded version and draft of the paper published in JPSP that
included 6 studies instead of 4. Mediational analyisis are not included and some
tables and figures are partially different
Collective emotional gatherings, perceived emotional contagion and synchrony,
fusion of identity and well-being
D. Páez, B. Rime, N. Basabe A. Wlodarczyk & L. Zumeta
Abstract
This paper presents six studies regarding mechanisms and positive effects of marches,
demonstrations and rituals on personal and social well-being. Two correlational, three
longitudinal and one experimental study analyze positive effects of participation in
collective gatherings, like folkloric marches, religious and secular weekly celebrations,
and demonstrations, on well-being. Collective emotional gatherings enhance personal
and collective self-esteem and positive affect; strengthen social integration and positive
shared beliefs, among participants, trough processes of emotional communion or
perceived synchrony with others and emotional contagion. High emotional communion
is associated to strong emotional reactions, strong social support and high agreement
with social beliefs and values. Participation in symbolic collective gatherings also
reinforces some transcendence emotions like hope, as well as self-transcendence beliefs
and fusion of identity or overlapping of self and others. This occurs particularly when
emotional communion is high, controlling for type of activity. Results are discussed in a
neo-Durkheimian model of collective sharing of emotions and a socio-cultural approach
to well-being.
Key words: collective gatherings; affect; emotional communion; perceived synchrony
with others; emotional contagion; fusion of identity
Positive effects of collective identity (Haslam, Jetten, Postmes & Haslam, 2009);
collective optimal experience (Walker, 2010); participation in collective gatherings and
emotionally loaded events for personal and social well-being has been recently
proposed (Collins, 2004a). For instance, Rosanno (2012) stresses that family and
communal rituals serve to infuse social norms, mainly by the emotional binding of
people to one another and to group normative values reinforcing pro-social behaviour.
In this paper we will analyze processes of collective identification embedded in
collective gatherings and effects that they provoke. As a mechanism underlying these
positive effects Durkheim proposed the notion of collective effervescence defined as a
feeling of belonging and assimilation produced by collective ritual gatherings; this
concept related to current approaches of collective flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) and
fusion of identity (Swann, Jetten, Gomez, Whitehouse & Bastian, 2012). Durkheim
(1912) defined collective gatherings as ceremonies which gather members of a given
society for the purpose of recreating the moral community to which they belong. In
Durkheim point of view demonstrations and public rituals elicit both emotional
communion and reinforce collective identity. In addition beliefs in collective efficacy
and personal worthiness are increased and furthermore cultural beliefs are consolidated,
as a result confidence in collective action is enhanced and participants become prone to
prosocial behaviours. Therefore, Durkheim viewed collective gatherings as particularly
efficient to boost group cohesion and participants’ feelings of social integration.
Recentlym, Rosanno (2012) review evidence confirming that participation in family and
communal rituals provokes positive outcomes, like increased cooperation and altruism.
Coordinated collective behaviour, perception of synchrony and group unity
When a common emotional event is enacted collectively, indeed, participants a)
focus their attention in the same elements or themes- commonly group symbols (flags,
emblems, leaders, icons) b) as well as display group mimesis or coordinated collective
behaviour (shared movements, marching together) and expressions (singing, yelling,
telling words or sentences, music, and dance) enacting behavioural synchrony c) and
converge in special spaces and particular times. Bodily co-presence together with
shared practices helps to establish physical and psychological “synchronization”,
intensifying sharing of emotions and perception of similarity and unity (Collins, 2004,
Páez & Rimé, 2013; Von Scheve, 2011; Rosanno, 2012).
Collective ceremonies, rituals and gatherings throughout the world include
imitation of others behaviours and emotional displays, synchronous chanting and
synchronous movement (McNeill, 1995; Wiltermuth & Heath, 2009). In several studies
(van Baaren, Holland, Kawakami & van Knippenberg, 2004; van Baaren, Holland,
Steenaert& van Knippenberg, 2003), imitation was found to increase pro-social
behaviour. Participants who were imitated were more willing to provide help and more
generous to others than participants who had not been imitated. Studies have also found
that the synchrony of movement has the effect of enhancing cooperation and pro-social
orientation, and of favouring the emergence of a social unity between participants
(Kirhsner & Tomasello, 2009). Wiltermuth and Heath (2009) found that compared with
individuals placed in control conditions, those who acted in synchrony with others
(walking around campus in groups of three, listening to music in groups of three versus
walking or listening alone) showed more cooperation. Social effects from synchrony of
movement also occur in the eyes of spectators. Lakens and Stel (2011) found that when
people move in synchrony, observers attribute them more feelings of mutual
understanding and a higher level of entitativity (i.e., how far they constitute a single
group or “entity”) than when they move in asynchrony. Moreover, synchrony increases
affiliation with a group (Hove & Risen, 2009) and blurs self-other boundaries (Paladino,
Mazzurega, Pavani, & Schubert 2010). Another supportive line of research of this blur
of self-other boundaries in collective gatherings is related to shared flow or collective
optimal experiences. Collective gatherings or rituals are affordances that a society offers
to its members in order to allow them to meet optimal experiences under socially
desirable forms and are also conceived as akin to collective effervescence
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Nitz & Spickard, 1990). Confirming the similarity of shared
optimal experience with collective effervescence process, interviews with athletes found
that important factors for flow arisement in team sports were unison movements and
focus of attention among interaction mates, a positive team interaction and feeling part
of the group (Schiepe-Tiska & Engerser, 2011). Walker’s (2010) experiments show that
flow experienced in a social situation elicited joyful experience at a higher level than
solitary flow. In addition, cogently with our ideas, this author argued that experiences of
interactive and collective flow involve both a loss of consciousness of the “self” and an
emotional communion or perceived synchrony with others and emotional contagion
with the group and the audience. These results suggest that actions that are practice in
synchrony with others, which are typical of collective gatherings, increase cooperation,
perception of unity, positive affect and feeling of oneness with the group.
Coordinated collective behaviour and collective identity as self-categorization
Concluding, marching, singing and doing things together, particularly when the
experience is intrinsically motivating and absorbing (i.e. optimal experience or flow)
increase a sense of union with others and pro-social behaviour. Some studies suggest
that this occurs even if the actions are meaningless and no affect is induced by
coordinated action (Wiltermuth & Heath, 2009; Valdesolo, Ouyang, & DeSteno, 2010).
This “minimal coordinated behaviour” effect is compatible with the Self-Categorization
Theory (SCT) approach to studies on collective behaviour described as ESIM (Drury
& Reicher, 2009). According to this approach during demonstrations social categories
symbols are made salient and physical and symbolic boundaries are highlighted.
Participants define themselves as members of the relevant social category. Self-
stereotyping follows and cognitions and feelings converge towards the prototypical
norm. People perceive themselves as similar and interchangeable with others, what
could be seen as a “depersonalization” process. As a result, one of the effects of
participation in collective emotional gatherings is deindividuation, a loss of personal
identity. A meta-analytic review confirmed that deindividuated people behave in terms
of the norm that is relevant for the salient in-group (Drury and Reicher, 2009, p. 710)
showing that collective emotional gatherings could increase normative behaviour.
Moreover, in SCT studies, participation was related to increased identification to the
social group, polarization and reconstruction of social beliefs, commitment to social
values, and empowerment (Drury & Reicher, 2000; 2009; ), all outcomes cogent to
Durkheim view of collective gatherings. On the other hand, studies in collective optimal
experiences suggest that the loss of consciousness of the “self” and convergence with
the collective does not imply a loss of awareness of personal self. Evidence suggest that
strong collective identity together with strong feelings of personal identity characterizes
sport team experiences (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 2010) and that subjects at the
same time perceives themselves as a part of a group and the group as a part of
themselves (see also fusion of identity studies and approach, Swann et al, 2012).
Coordinated collective behaviour, emotional communion, fusion of identity and
positive psychosocial outcomes
Moreover, studies on demonstrations and mass behaviour in SCT tradition states
that factors contributing to a sense of empowerment associated to participation in
collective gatherings were the realization of the collective identity, the sense of
movement potential, unity and mutual support within a crowd, as well the emotionality
of the event. Empowering events were almost without exception described as joyous
occasions. Participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria in
being involved in demonstrations (Drury, 2000; Drury & Reicher, 2005). This is
congruent with Durkheim perspective: social identification results from “hot” emotional
process which is complementary to cognitive self-categorization process. Collective
gatherings involving synchronous activity not only increase similarity with others, unity
and entitativity, but also attraction to others and to group. Collective gatherings also
reinforce emotions like collective pride, joy and hope.
Durkheim points out that general sharing of emotions, not only positive but also
negative ones, weaken the psychological boundaries between the self and the group,
because it reinforce similarity and commitment to group symbols and entitativity. This
is the process of emotional communion or intensification and transmission of personal
emotions and creation of a common fate, unity or fusion of personal and collective self:
during collective gatherings and expressive situations, emotional expression elicits
socio-emotional resonance effects in which individuals’ consciousnesses intensely echo
one another. The experience of these emotions, their public expression and their social
sharing concur to propagate similar emotional feelings in the audience. Thus a strong
empathetic emotional feeling is generated and it stimulates further the emotional
expression. This reciprocal stimulation enhances manifestations of empathy and
emotional contagion. Consequently, various emotions attached to the collective events
and themes are intensely reactivated among all participants of a ritual. For Durkheim,
emotional communion infuses symbols and group representations with affect and
reinforces the attachment to group norms and values. When emotional communion is
experienced, salience of the self is lowered, feelings of group belonging are enhanced
and shared beliefs and social consensus are set at the foreground of a mental
representations (Von Scheve, 2011).
There are studies partially confirming this emotional communion process in
collective gathering. For instance, confirming that identification with participants in a
ritual elicits shared emotional arousal between actors and spectators, Xygalatas,
Konvalinka, Bulbulia, and Roepstorff (2011) studies the physiological effects of a
highly arousing Spanish fire-walking ritual. They found shared patterns in heart-rate
dynamics between participants and spectators, who previously identified with fire-
walkers. Results show an associative emotional empathetic response, which operates
irrespectively of personal activity and experience of fire-walking even if direct
participation in ritual increases affect and sharing. Social contagion studies also confirm
the transmission of affect by automatic imitation, mimicry and feedback effect of non
verbal behaviour (Lakin, Jefferis, Cheng & Chartrand, 2003). Studies show that the
facial expression and subjective feelings of the partner tended to be mimicked,
supporting the view that perceiving the facial expression of someone else in a social
interaction contributes to actually feeling the emotion associated with this expression
(Von Scheve, 2011). Hatfield and colleagues also emphasize that in addition to facial
expressions, the haptic vocals, and verbal information also evoke emotional contagion.
Studies on effects of social sharing and social capitalization also found that verbal
interaction increases emotionality and induces convergence of emotion (Rimé, 2009);
by creating common appraisal and meaning of events that induce shared emotions (Von
Scheve, 2011). Finally participation in collective gatherings increases social sharing, the
latter in turn reinforce personal and collective emotions (Rimé, Páez, Basabe &
Martínez, 2010).
By respect to positive psychosocial outcomes of participation in collective
gatherings, several self-report studies also reveal that participation in religious
collective gatherings is related to high positive affect (Pargament, 1997) as well as to
prosocial behaviour (Rosanno, 2012). Finally, longitudinal studies confirms that
satisfactory participation in collective emotional gatherings like mourning ceremonies,
demonstrations and so on reinforces personal and collective emotions, but also
facilitates social integration (Beristain, Páez, & González, 2000; Weiss & Richard,
1997) and increases positive social beliefs, as well as social cohesion (Kanyangara et
al., 2007; Páez, Basabe, Ubillos, & Gonzalez, 2007; Rimé, 2009, Gasparre, Bosco, &
Bellelli 2010; Páez, Javaloy, Wlodarczyk, Espelt, & Rimé, 2013).
Furthermore, what can be called the Durkheim’s model leads to predict that after
the participation in a collective emotional gathering, a) participants' positive affect and
positive view of the self should increases, b) feelings of group belonging and social
integration should be enhanced, including convergence of personal and collective
identity, blurs of self and group boundaries, reinforcement of self-transcendence, c)
positive social representations or shared social beliefs, and d) perceived societal
cohesion and positive collective emotions should be enhanced. More importantly,
emotional communion and perception of similarity, unity and integration of self and
social identity during collective emotional gathering appears as the process explaining
these positive outcomes. Nevertheless, previously described studies did not examined
directly all the particular processes of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony
with others.
Overview of the present studies
Six studies were conducted to examine the role of individual and especially
shared emotional states in explaining beneficial effects of participation in positively-
balanced collective gathering on individual’s positive functioning, social beliefs and
commitment to a group. In all these studies positive outcomes were compared between
high versus low emotional contagion and synchrony with others during collective
behaviour, to contrast the mediational role of this process.
First, a correlational approach was used to examine whether participation in a
folkloric celebration (Study1) elicits social integration, positive affect, and strengthens
social beliefs, by comparison to non participants. Second, effects of participation in
socio-political demonstrations (Study 2) upon emotions, social integration, and social
beliefs were examined in a field study of a major protest movement, comparing
participants in demonstrations with those who participated in others collective
gatherings. Next, a quasi experimental design was applied to test weather participation
in religious collective celebrations and secular weekly celebration (Study 3) reinforces
participants’ feeling and emotions of self-transcendence in comparison to participants in
non religious weekly celebration and whether it is especially so in people who had
experienced a high level of emotional contagion and synchrony with others. Another
longitudinal study contrast that the higher perceived emotional contagion and synchrony
the stronger the reinforcement of positive emotions and fusion of identity or merging of
the self with the group (Study 4). A third longitudinal study examine whether high level
of emotional contagion and synchrony with others during the participation in a folkloric
celebration (Study 5) reinforces fusion of identity or merging of the self with the group
as well as personal well-being, social integration, and strengthens social beliefs. Finally,
in an experimental study (Study 6), participants were assigned to collective versus
control group to confirm the above effects. In the last two studies direct evaluation of
overlapping of self with groups will be contrasted in order to evaluate the effect of
participation in collective gatherings on fusion of identity.
Study 1.- Participation in folkloric celebrations.-
This study relied upon an important folk tradition that has continued since the
Middle Ages in over 80 Belgian small towns. Every year during a celebration lasting
three days, religious processions accompanied by large groups of “walkers” move
through the countryside surrounding the town. Walkers involve several hundred
inhabitants who train all year wearing ancient military uniforms and armaments and
marching in synchrony as military companies. At the time of the annual celebration,
they escort the religious processions over long distances. For these walkers, such rituals
represent symbolic moments of high emotional impact. In line with Durkheim's model,
we expected that compared to control nonparticipants, walkers participating in the folk
marches would manifest afterwards an enhanced level of social integration, more
positive self-esteem, higher level of positive affects, and stronger social beliefs.
Method
Participants
At a practice meeting held a couple of days before the period of annual
celebration, all the walkers of a same town (N = 350) were informed that a study would
be conducted on participants through a questionnaire to be completed immediately after
the celebration via an internet link. Those among them volunteering to respond were
asked to provide their email address. On the day following the celebration, volunteers
received an email with the link to the study questionnaire. This link was active during
two days. A total of 93 walkers (18 females) validly completed all the study forms
within this delay. Their mean age was 32.6 years (SD = 12.9). With the exception of the
fusion scale, the same measures were proposed at the same time to a large group of non-
walkers respondents belonging to the same semi-rural and lower middle social class as
the walkers but not concerned with the celebration. They were contacted via available
lists of email addresses and were proposed to participate in a university study conducted
in their area. In this manner, 324 non-walkers participants fully completed the
questionnaire. A control group of 93 respondents paired for age and sex (18 females,
mean age = 34.1 years; SD = 13.5) with walkers could then be extracted from this pool.
Measurements
Self-esteem. Participants’ general feelings about themselves were assessed by the
French version (Vallières & Vallerand, 1990) of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale
(Rosenberg, 1965). This 10-item one-dimensional scale is designed to measure personal
worth, self-confidence, self-satisfaction, self-respect, and self-deprecation. The items
had to be rated on 7-point scales anchored with ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’.
A principal component factor analysis followed by a Varimax rotation was conducted
on the sample of 324 control respondents. It explained in total 65.6% of the variance
and evidenced the presence of two factors in the scale. A first one (35.6% of the total
variance) and grouped 5 items representing a negative self-esteem (Cronbach's α = .84)
whereas the second (29.8%) comprised the 5 remaining items which expressed a
positive self-esteem (Cronbach's α = .85).
Affects. The 20-items of the "State" part of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
(STAI) (Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) translated in French (Schweitzer &
Paulhan, 1990) were used to assess affects (worry, tension, apprehension, and
nervousness). Answers were collected upon the standard 4-point scales (no, rather no,
rather yes, yes). A principal component factor analysis followed by a Varimax rotation
conducted on the sample of 324 control respondents explained 66.2% of the total
variance and revealed three underlying dimensions to the scale. A first one (27.9%)
comprised 9 items (e.g., I feel strong, poised, balanced, thoughtful) and tapped
relaxation, positive mood and self-confidence (Cronbach's α = .93); a second one
(22.9%) contained 9 items (e.g., I feel scared) and assessed anxiety (Cronbach's α =
.90); the third one (15.4%) involved three items (e.g., I feel overwhelmed) indexing a
high arousal state (Cronbach's α = .81).
Social integration. Participants’ perception of social integration was assessed by
the 10-item Feeling of Relatedness Scale developed in French by Richer et Vallerand,
(1998) (ESAS - Echelle du Sentiment d'Appartenance Sociale). This scale assesses
people's feelings of relatedness in life in general. It comprises 10 adjectives (e.g.,
supported, united, close to) preceded by the sentence "In my relations with people in
general, I feel…" and to be rated on 7-point scale anchored with "not at all" and "very
much". The reliability was found satisfactory as the Cronbach's α computed on the 324
control respondents amounted .92.
Social Beliefs. We assessed participants’ social beliefs using a shorter version of
the World Assumptions Scale (Janoff-Bulman, 1989) and the Belief in a Just World
Scale (Dalbert, Montada, & Schmitt, 1987). The first scale comprised 5 items
measuring beliefs about the benevolence and meaningfulness of the world ( e.g. The
world is a good place) and 5 items measuring beliefs in the benevolence of people (e.g.
"People are basically kind and helpful") (Cronbach's α = .86). The second scale
comprised 5 items based upon Lerner's (1980) theory of the just world (e.g. On average,
the world is just) (Cronbach's α = .77). Respondents indicated their agreement or
disagreement with each of the items on 7-point scales, with endpoints 1 ("strongly
disagree") and 7 ("strongly agree").
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others. An 18-item scale was
developed in order to assess the extent to which participants experienced a condition of
emotional communion (e. g.,"I was bathed in an emotion shared by the entire group"),
and fusion when they were marching with the group of walkers (e. g "we were all in
unison", "I felt vibrating with the other walkers"). Cronbach's alpha calculated for the
sample of walkers showed a satisfactory reliability, α =. 94).
Results
A Manova comparing walkers and non-walkers for the eight dependent variables
yielded a highly significant group effect, Wilks' Lambda F(8,177) = 4.58, p < .001, ηp2
=.17. Separate comparisons conducted with Student t-tests then revealed markedly
significant effects for five of the eight variables (see Table 1).
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Insert Table 1 about here
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Walkers manifested higher scores than non walkers social integration p2= .07), for
positive self-esteem p2 = .06), for confidence p2= .12), for beliefs in a benevolent
world (ηp2 = .10) and for beliefs in a just world p2= .07). All these effects were in the
direction predicted by the hypothesis and all five predictions were supported. The two
groups did not differ for negative self-esteem, for anxiety and for arousal. Thus, the
observed differences all suggested a strengthening of walkers as regarded their feeling
of belonging, as regarded their own self, and as regarded their shared basic beliefs. Of
course, the design of the study does not allow excluding an explanation of these
findings in terms of a selection effect. It is possible that walkers differed from control
respondents already before their participation to the annual celebration. We thus further
tested the model taking into account a mediating variable.
According to Durkheim's model, it was expected that the more walkers would
have experienced a state of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others
during their participation to the walks, the more they would manifest the five predicted
effects. Thus, a higher feeling of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with
others was expected to yield a higher social integration, a more positive self-esteem, a
higher confidence, as well as stronger beliefs in a benevolent and just world. To test
these hypotheses, walkers were divided in two subgroups according to the median of the
distribution of their score to the emotional fusion scale. We thus obtained a subgroup of
47 walkers who scored high for perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with
others and a subgroup of 46 walkers who scored low for emotional fusion. Their
respective scores on the 18-items fusion scale averaged M = 6.18 (SD = .38) for the
former and M = 4.83 (SD=.90) for the latter, t(91) = 9.48, p < .001. Non walkers control
respondents were also separated into two groups using this time an odd-even method so
that we obtained a control group "A" involving 47 non walking respondents and a
control group "B" comprising 46 non walking respondents. A Manova comparing the
four groups for the eight dependent variables yielded a highly significant group effect,
Wilks' Lambda F(24, 508) = 3.36, p <.001, ηp2= .13. Separate Anovas (see Table 2)
revealed significant group effects for social integration (ηp2= .20), for positive self-
esteem (ηp2= .07), for confidence p2= .13), for beliefs in a benevolent world p2= .12)
and for beliefs in a just world (ηp2 = .11). As can be seen from Table 2, all five effects
were in the predicted direction, with walkers who scored high for perceived emotional
contagion evidencing for each of the five significant dependent variables the highest of
the four mean scores compared. Tukey post hoc comparisons showed the prediction to
be fully supported for social integration and for beliefs in a just world. For these two
variables, indeed, the mean score of walkers who scored high for perceived emotional
contagion were significantly higher than the respective scores of the three other groups,
which did not differ from one another. As regarded positive self-esteem, confidence and
belief in a benevolent world, though the mean scores were in the expected direction for
each of these variables (High perceived emotional contagion > low perceived emotional
contagion > non walkers), they could not be discriminated significantly by Tukey post
hoc comparisons.
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Insert Table 2 about here
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Discussion
All the predictions resulting from Durkheim's model were supported by the
results of the present study. Compared to control nonparticipants, walkers participating
in the folk marches manifested afterwards an enhanced level of social integration, more
positive self-esteem, higher level for positive affects, and stronger social beliefs. In
addition, our analyses corroborated that the intensity of the experience of perceived
emotional contagion and synchrony with others predict the observed effects. All five
variables concerned resulted significant in the first analyses, the findings were in line
with the hypothesis of a mediating role of emotional fusion. However, the effects
reached statistical significance only for social integration and for beliefs in a just world.
Our predictions were reasonably well supported by the results of the comparison of
participants and non participants in emotionally involving collective event. Of course,
the conclusions that can be drawn from this study are limited by the absence of random
assignment of the study participants to these two conditions and by the lack of baseline
measurements for the various investigated variables. Thus, the first study confirms that
participation in marches provokes positives outcomes, and that these outcomes were
stronger when participants experienced higher perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony with others. The subsequent studies will compare participants who
experiment high versus low perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others,
and contras whether it evokes more positive outcomes in the first case, as well as
reply evidence on moderation effects of this process.
Study 2.- Participants in demonstrations related to a social movement.-
Collective gatherings related to social movements usually involve shared and
collective identity, positive reframing of a social issues as a solvable problem, collective
efficacy and hope of social change, as well as pro-social and altruistic ideals and values.
Also anger, moral outrage and social shame or shame because of the social situation
fuel social mobilization - and even negative extreme emotions like hate and aggression
are included. Participants in social movements shared more beliefs on collective
identity, injustice and collective efficacy than non-participants (Klandermans, 1997).
They report, in comparison with non participants, higher anger, moral outrage and
collective shame (associated to the social problem) and higher hope that the social
movement succeeds (Thomas, MgGarthy, & Mavor, 2009). This study compares beliefs
and group processes between participants in the Spanish 15-M 2011 Movement and non
participants. This protest movement in opposition to the economic and social situation
sprang spontaneously in Madrid (Spain) at a place called “La Puerta del Sol” in the
spring of 2011 (protests were staged close to the local and regional elections, held on 22
May) and precedes the similar Occupying Wall Street demonstrations. It then quickly
spread to other cities, taking the form of a day and night occupation of public places by
numerous protesters. It was accompanied by intensive social interaction involving the
discussion of socio-political issues between participants who even though
heterogeneous shared a strong rejection of Spanish politicians and firmly support what
they call basic rights: home, work, culture, health and education.
First, we predict that compared to control nonparticipants, subjects participating
in the political demonstrations would report higher level of perceived emotional
contagion and synchrony with others and more positive outcomes. Second, the more
emotional contagion and synchrony with others participants perceive during the
demonstrations, the more they would manifest the predicted positive effects, like
enhanced level of emotions related to social mobilization, higher level of social
integration, and higher agreements with social beliefs or values related to 15-M social
movement.
Method
Participants
A cross-sectional study compares beliefs and group processes between
participants in the Spanish 15-M Movement and non participants. Respondents were
134 (45% men) volunteers aged between 17 and 68, residents of Madrid, Barcelona, and
the Basque Country. More than a half (60%) of them participated directly in protest
related to the 15-M movement.
Procedure
The interviews were contacted during the month of June 2011 by psychology
PhD students and researchers either in places related to the movement, or at college and
university campuses. First, the level of personal involvement in the movement was
assessed. Then, participants answered a short version of perceived emotional contagion
and synchrony with others scale, emotional climate scale, social support scale and social
beliefs questionnaire. When answering, they were instructed to refer to their
participation either in mass events related to the 15-M movement or in some unrelated
mass meeting which they attended recently. The second type of instruction was adopted
in order to constitute a comparison group composed of respondents who also
participated in mass meeting, but devoid of the intensive character taken by the 15-M
Movement. 60% participates in 15-M demonstrations, 25% in familial and friends
celebrations, 7% in trade unions meetings, 6% in sports teams’ activities and 2% in
concerts.
Measures
Emotional reaction (Echebarría & Páez, 1989). Participants’ emotional
responses to the current social situation were assessed using five items. Participants
were asked to respond till what extend they felt anger or moral outrage, powerlessness,
fear, shame because of the social situation and hope. All ratings were made on a scale
from 1 (not at all) to 7 (a lot).
Vaux Subjective Social Support Scale (short version) (Vaux et al., 1986). The 3-
item short version is composed by items with highest loadings on the subjective social
support factor (e.g. “I have strong affective bonds with my friends”). Participants
respond on 4-point Likert scale, indicating the extent to which they are disagree (1) or
agree (4) with the statements. The scale obtained a Cronbach´s α of .87.
Social Beliefs. Participants rated the extent to which they endorsed a number of
values. The list of these values was established to represent the values promoted by the
movement of May 15—solidarity, freedom, dignity, participation, social justice and
equity.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others. A short seven items
Rimé’s et al. scale of Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was
applied, including items like “I was influenced by a strong group emotion or feeling” -
and show a satisfactory reliability α =.90.
Results
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others, emotions, social
support and participation.
Participants in political demonstrations report higher perceived emotional
contagion and synchrony with others (M=5.21, SD=1.23) than participants who
answered by respect to other group activities (M=4.30, SD=1.34), t(228) =5.28, p<.001,
d=.77. Participants, in comparison with non participants, reported more anger (M=6.64
SD=0.86 to M=6.09 SD=1.22 t(170)=3.94, p<.001, d=.52), shame (M=6.20 SD=1.23 to
M=5.22 SD=1.62, t(137)=4.02, p<.001, d=.68) and more hope that the movement will
succeed (M=5.53 SD=1.43 to M=4.28 SD=1.92, t(180)=5.73, p<.001, d=.74. No
differences were found in the perception of social support.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was dichotomized by
the median to test the hypotheses of its explanatory moderation role. Ancovas were
ruled using participation versus non participation in 15-M and high versus low
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others as independent variables.
Participation versus non participation effect reproduces previous differences. Those how
reported high perceived emotional contagion also reported higher level of social support
(F(1,126)=20.4, p<.001, ηp2 = .14; M=3.75, SD=.62) than the comparison group (M=3.28,
SD=.59). They also reports higher shame (F(1,126)=4.49, p<.03, ηp2 = .04; M=6.14,
SD=1.2 vs. M=5.20, SD=1.6) as well as stronger hope that movement succeeds
(F(1,126)=4.21, p<.03, ηp2= .04; M=4.89, SD=.26 vs. M=4.18, SD=.20). In addition, an
interaction effect of participation by high vs. low perceived emotional contagion, show
that high perceived emotional contagion during demonstrations reinforces anger
(F(1,126)=4.71, p<.035, ηp2 = .04), specifically in participants in 15-M. Non participants
with low level of perceived emotional contagion (M=5.91, SD=1.16) report higher
anger than those with high (M=.5.46, SD=1.61) while the opposite occurs for participant
with low perceived emotional contagion (M=6.30, SD=1.08) in comparison with those
who report higher levels (M=6.81, SD=.64).
Finally, we examined correlations between participation in 15-M (0=yes, 1=no),
the endorsement of values advocated by the movement of May 15 and perceived
emotional contagion only participants in 15-M were included in the last correlation.
As expected point biserial correlations show that participants shared to a greater extent
values represented by the social movement, like solidarity r(134)=.31, p<.001, freedom
r=.37, p<.001, dignity, r=.41, p<.001, participation, r=.27, p<.001, social justice, r=.54,
p<.001, and equity, r=.51, p<.001. Also the more participants had experienced
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others during these events, the more
they endorsed the values represented by the social movement: solidarity r(80)=.29,
p<.001, freedom r=.24, p<.0001, dignity, r=.20, p<.001, participation, r=.23, p<.001,
social justice, r=.15, p<.001, and equity, r=.21, p<.001.
Discussion
In line with our predictions, results reveal that participation in a protest
movement is associated with stronger perceived emotional contagion and synchrony
with others, as well as with strong personal emotions like hope, anger and shame.
Confirming the second hypothesis, high perceived emotional contagion and synchrony
with others was related to higher perceived social support and emotions such as shame,
and hope, which fuels mobilization. Hope is related to personal and collective efficacy
and framing the social issue as a solvable problem (Fredrickson, 2009). Social shame is
similar to moral outrage: a moral emotion provoked by others misdeeds and motivate
reparatory and modification of the situation action tendency (O’Mara, Jackson, Batson,
& Gaertner, 2011). This means that process of social sharing of emotion and
reinforcement of social identity during ritual are associated to social integration and to
the perception of positive emotions like hope, and with moral emotions like social
shame, and specifically with antagonistic emotions like anger or moral outrage, that
frames the problem as an injustice and fuel social mobilization (O’Mara, Jackson,
Batson, & Gaertner, 2011). Finally, according to Durkheim’s model and as expected,
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others during these demonstrations,
were associated with values related to 15-M movement, suggesting that collective
processes of sharing of emotions reinforces commitment with more general social
representations, like values. This was one of Durkheim main ideas: social or collective
representations, like cultural values, are nourished and anchored on emotions induced
by collective gatherings. Religious rituals are collective gatherings with symbolic load
and they are especially prone to reinforce values, but also emotions which blurs self
other boundaries or self-transcendence beliefs and emotions. The goal of the next study
is to contrast these effects.
Study 3. - Participants in Religious ritual and secular group activities.-
In view of their correlacional design, the findings of the first two studies
described so far remain of course open to alternative explanations. Quasi experimental
and longitudinal studies are more solid basis to test the outcomes of participation in
collective gatherings. This study compares addressed participation in religious rituals
with the purpose to test whether such participation induces previously described
positive outcomes, but also reinforced participants’ emotions and feeling of self-
transcendence and whether it was especially so in people who had experienced a high
level of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others. Previous studies
suggest that participation in collective gatherings like demonstrations induces positive
affect and emotions like hope and joy (Drury & Reicher, 2005, 2009; Páez et al, 2007).
Religious rituals also infuse hope, with the expectation of Good mercies and of
symbolic immortality and a better fate in the afterlife. It is supposed that spiritual
collective gatherings should reinforce emotions like awe, admiration and elevation.
Weekly religious rituals are not necessarily emotional loaded events, however studies
found that religious rituals specifically induce joy, but also calm, and to lower extent
love/closeness, gratitude, awe, and inspiration, admiration or elevation (Emmons,
2005). Even if the emotion of calm or serenity is strongly associated to Hinduism and
Buddhism-related Asian spiritual ideologies than to Monotheist religions, feeling of joy,
contentment and internal harmony and peace are not absent in Christian and Islam
beliefs. Serenity, content or calm is usually associated to safe, peaceful and familiar
place that requires little effort of adaptation and moves to savour current circumstances
(Fredrickson, 2009). Participation in prayers, meditations and religious rituals induces
calm, contentment as results of contact with a transcendent reality or because of
relaxation and mindfulness in the case of meditation (Emmons, 2005) forming a
dimension of a cross cultural scale of spirituality (Saroglou, Buxant & Tilquin, 2008).
Participation in religious rituals is associated to give and receive social support, to the
feeling of belonging to a community, to personal and collective self-esteem and as a
consequence to closeness and feelings “love they neighbour”. Worshiping Good you
worship your community and your selves (Emmons, 2005), but of course you can feel
general love or closeness to secular, political or ethnic collectivities. Gratitude is
associated to the appraisal that someone does good things for you or your collective
enhancing reciprocity. Gratitude toward supernatural entities for gifts and mercies are
common in religious worship, private and collective rituals and dispositional measures
of gratitude correlates with measures of religiousness (Emmons, 2005). Awe, reverence,
wonder or amazement are feelings of wonder experienced by the self when facing
something vaster, greater, powerful, real, true and or beautiful, like Notre Dame
Cathedral, but also a great National parade, or mixed with fear witnessing Atomic
Bomb or Tsunami. This appraisal induces a need for accommodation of beliefs,
challenged by perceived greatness (Haidt, 2006; Emmons, 2005; Fredrickson, 2009). In
religious rituals the presence of sacred induces feeling of overpowering majesty and
mystery. However, a powerful ritualized collective behaviour or demonstration (e.g. the
Red Army parade celebrating the triumph over Nazis or a huge Arab spring
demonstration) or a charismatic leader and speaker also can induces awe (Emmons,
2005). Inspiration or elevation is the positive emotional response to moral exemplars,
like good deeds, acts of altruism and heroes and martyrs, being religious or seculars.
Admiration is inspiration produced by exemplars of talent and skill, like excellent
players or speakers. These emotions are characterized by the appraisals of seeing
something or someone greater or better than usual and the self. Urge to do your best,
express what is good in you and motivates improvement of the self and the society
(Haidt, 2006; Emmons, 2005). These positive emotional states pull out of self-
absorption and enables one to see himself as part of something greater, in addition, they
weakens differences between the self and the social world (Frederickson, 2009; Van
Cappellen & Rimé, in press), inducing self-transcendence or fusion of personal identity
with the social world. These type of symbolically loaded collective gatherings and
emotions are obviously associated to spirituality. Spirituality does not imply necessarily
belief in supernatural entities. This is only one facet of it which is not commonly shared
in secularized Europe (Saroglou et al., 2008) or in Buddhist and Confucian Asia for
instance (Cottraux, 2007). However the other two facets, the tendency to orient oneself
toward a larger transcendent reality or connectedness and belief in the unitary nature of
existence or universalism are more general aspects and probably more cross culturally
valid (Emmons, 2005). We will contrast the increase in self transcendence beliefs and
emotions as the effects of religious rituals like Sunday Mass, or collective gatherings in
general. First, we expect that perceived emotional contagion and synchrony will be
higher in a religious ritual with strong symbolic sense than during a weekly secular
celebration. Second, a congruence specific hypothesis suggests that increase in self-
transcendence beliefs and emotions will be higher in religious ritual than in secular
weekly celebrations. However, self-transcendence beliefs could be increased and
transcendence emotions could be felt also during social celebrations that increase social
integration. Third, we predict that positive outcomes will be strong in participants
reporting high level of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others.
Method
Participants
A longitudinal study compare beliefs and group processes between participants
in Sunday Mass and participants in secular Sunday group activities. Student from the
University of the Basque Country were asked to recruit acquaintance who would
participate in either secular or religious activity during the weekend. The sample
consisted of 110 volunteers between the age of 23 and 90 years old (M = 53.94 years,
SD = 18.17). Most (76.4%) self-identified as Spanish; 61.8% were female.
Procedure
Participants responded to the questionnaire on Thursday and again on the
following Tuesday. During the weekend they participated either in a Christian Mass
(N=60) or in a secular Sunday activity (family meals, playing cards with friends etc.,
N=49). On Sunday evening they were asked to respond to the scale of perceived
emotional contagion and synchrony with others in the context of their respective social
activity.
Measures
Positive and negative emotions. Fredrickson’s Positivity Test (Fredrickson, 2009
and Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh, & Larkin, 2003) is used to assess specific emotions
by single items, or to create overall positive and negative emotion scores by computing
the mean of 10 positive and 10 negative emotions, respectively. Instructions were
modified to assess emotions in response to either Christian Mass o another secular
Sunday activity. Participants were asked to indicate the greatest amount of each of the
listed feelings that you have experienced during the event, using 0- not at all to 4 -
extremely scale. Importantly, this scale include positive emotions like awe, gratitude,
inspiration, calm, closeness/love, related to self-transcendence (Emmons, 2005)
Collective self-esteem scale (CSE). Private collective self-esteem and
Importance to Identity subscales of collective self-esteem scale (Luthanen & Crocker,
1992) were applied. Items were answered on a 7-point rating scale (1 = disagree
strongly to 7 = agree strongly). Cronbach´s α was .83 at pre- and .84 at post-evaluation.
Self-transcendence Spirituality. In that scale, spirituality is understood as the
tendency to orient oneself toward a larger transcendent reality and involves a belief in
the unitary nature of existence. The scale consists of five items such as: “I often feel an
intense emotional or spiritual connection with people around me” or “I have had
moments of great joy in having strong feelings of unity yet” (Cloeninger, 1994;
Vaillant, 2009, p. 235). The original scale also includes items as “Sometimes I feel that
my life is guided by a force greater than that of any human being” which refer to
transcendent supernatural entities and thus makes the scale less reliable in secularized
European countries than in the United States (Cottraux, 2007). For this reason, we used
only the items that do not refer to a specific supernatural power. Cronbach´s α was .84
at pre- and .85 at post-evaluation.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others. Rimé’es et al. short
seven items scale of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with was applied,
showing a satisfactory reliability α =.71.
Results
Participants in religious ritual report higher perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony with others (M=5.43, SD=1.54) than participants who were involved in other
social activities during the weekend (M=4.82, SD=1.20), t(105)=2.25, p=.027, d=.44.
Effects on self-transcendence beliefs, emotions and collective self-esteem. To
contrast the outcomes of participation in Sunday activities, an ANCOVA using baseline
or before dependent variable scores as covariables were performed with Mass versus
secular activities and high versus low emotional communion as independent variable
and self-transcendence and collective self-esteem as dependent variables. The predicted
main effect of participation in different activity was significant, participants in religious
ritual report (M=5.12, SD=.90), in comparison with non participants (M=4.51,
SD=1.16), higher transcendence beliefs, F(1,83)=5.70, p=.019, ηp2=.062. The main
effect of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was also revealed,
high perceived emotional contagion during Sunday activities reinforces transcendence
beliefs in general (high: M=5.97, SD=1.01, low: M=5.51, SD=1.01), F(1,84)=4.61,
p=.035, ηp2=.057. These main effects were not qualified by an interaction between the
type of activity and perceived emotional contagion levels, F(1, 84) = .005, p = .94, ηp2 <
.001.
In addition, regarding collective self-esteem after the weekend controlling for
collective self-esteem reported before, no main effects of type of activity, nor high
versus low perceived emotional contagion level was revealed, nevertheless an
interaction between those variables was found, F(1, 93)=7.02, p=.009, ηp2=.070 .
Therefore, higher perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was
associated with a higher collective self-esteem, particularly in secular Sunday activity
(high communion M=6.28, SD=.56, low communion M=5.40, SD=.98), while
differences were low in Sunday Mass (high communion M=5.80, SD=1.02, low
communion M=5.63, SD=1.05).
Participation in Sunday Mass was not associated to higher level of self-
transcendence emotions, with the exception of hope than was higher in participant in the
religious ritual (M=3.15, SD=.14) than in the secular weekly celebration (M=2.77
SD=.10; t(108)=1.90, p=.05. An independent-samples t-test indicated that participants
in secular activity felt more amused, fun-loving, or silly, (M=3.20, SD=.87),
t(104)=4,38, p<.001, d=.78 than participants in the Mass (M=2.26, SD=1.33).
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others self-transcendence
emotions
To contrast the hypothesis of the explanatory role of perceived emotional
contagion and synchrony with others, the variable was dichotomization by the median.
Partial correlation between perceived emotional contagion and synchrony and outcome
variables were ruled, controlling for the type of activity. First, higher emotional
perceived emotional contagion was associated with a higher post-test self-
transcendence, controlling for condition activity, partial r(103)=.41, p<.001. Second,
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others, controlling for the type of
activity, was associated with transcendence emotions like awe, wonder, or amazement,
partial r(103)=.48, p<.001, gratefulness, appreciation, or thankfulness, r(103)=.47,
p<.001, hope, optimism, or encouragement, r(103)=.44, p<.001, inspiration, upliftment,
or elevation, r(103)=.48, p<.001, r(103)=.32, p<.001, serenity, content, or peace,
r(103)=.24, p<.005. In addition, it was also associated with positive emotions like
interest, alert, or curiosity, r(103)=.36, p<.001, joy, gladness, or happiness, r(103)=.45,
p<.001, love, closeness, or trust, r(103)=.45, p<.001, and pride, confidence, or self-
assurance,
Discussion
The results of the present study corroborate previous findings, perceived
emotional contagion and synchrony with others was higher in a symbolically loaded
collective gathering then in secular weekly celebrations. In fact the mean score was
similar to the mean score of participants in 15-M demonstrations, on the other hand the
mean score for weekly celebration showed middle level, but still higher than in the case
of other collective gatherings examined in study 2.
Even though only partially, the results confirm the congruence hypothesis. The
self transcendence beliefs, an important aspect of integration of self with others and the
world or of global spirituality were reinforced during religious activities. However, by
respect to transcendence emotions, only hope was felt at higher level during religious
ritual, taking into question the supposed superior influence of Mass on transcendence
emotions.
In regards to the third predicted effect, positive outcomes were strong in
participants reporting high level of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with
others. In this context it can be conclude, that high perceived emotional contagion
reinforces transcendence emotions and beliefs in all types of social gatherings. These
suggest that emotional and cognitive effects of collective gatherings are more general
than expected, as they do not occur in religious rituals like Sunday Mass.
Furthermore, high perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others
elicits collective self-esteem specifically in cases of participants who were involved in
Sunday secular activity. This suggests that successful weekly celebration increases
positive collective affect.
In this study we measure emotions and belief of self-transcendence, as well as
collective self-esteem. In the next study we will take a direct measure of fusion of
identity and enlarged indicators of well-being, social integration and social beliefs. This
allows us to check all the predicted positive outcomes as well as the explanatory process
of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony.
Study 4.- Participation in Dance and Collective Music performance.-
An important recent topic in social psychology is fusion of identity. Identity
fusion is the feeling of oneness with the group, associated with highly permeable
borders between personal and social self. This blur of self-others or between personal
and collective self encourage people to channel their personal agency into group
behaviour, raising the possibility that the personal and social self will combine
synergistically to motivate pro-group behaviour, both aggressive and altruistic (Gomez,
Vázquez, Brooks, Buhrmester, Jetten, & Swan, 2011; Swann et al., 2012). Collectivistic
culture emphasizing integration of others into the self and ideologies focused on
bloodline nationality and familistic view of in-group culture encourage fusion of
identity (e.g. percentage of fused persons is higher in collectivistic China, middle in
Spain and lower in individualistic USA (Swan et al,2012). For instance, Asian
American children were most intrinsically motivated when choices were made for them
by trusted authority figures, while Anglo-American kids were motivated only when they
chose the task, what suggest that in the first case significant others are included into the
selves (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999). An important contextual cause of fusion of identity is
sharing bonding experiences with others and participating in affective loaded rituals as
Swann et al. (2012, p.9) suggested. In the next study we will analyze the association
between high level of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others with
fusion of identity. Coordinated dancing is a prototypical form of collective behaviour
which usually devoid of ideological weight.
A fourth study examined a dance performance in which large numbers of
musicians and dancers took part. This performance or “Revue” constituted collective
situations involving synchronized participation of dancers (N = 42) to an overall
movement, together with a high emotional commitment from their part because of their
immersion in the musical field. We predict that during participation in dance
performance a high level of perceived emotional contagion and synchrony will be
correlated with high level of fusion of identity. High perceived emotional contagion
should reinforce positive affect, self-esteem and social integration, as well as social
beliefs.
Method
Participants
A total of 42 dancers (n=7), musicians (n=21), singers (n=11) and actors (n=3)
(50% females) validly completed all the study forms. Their mean age was 21.93 years
(SD = 2.08).
Procedure
Three days before the performance participants responded to questionnaires with
measures of self-esteem, social integration, and basic beliefs (benevolent world; just
world). Following 4 days of public performance, during the three days after the end of
“Revue” dancers responded with regard to what they had experienced during the event
to the scales of emotional communion or perceived emotional contagion and synchrony
and to the self-other overlap scale or IOS identity fusion. Finally, one week after the
performance they responded to the questionnaires of self-esteem, social integration, and
basic beliefs (benevolent world; just world). As in the previous study, we then divided
the respondents according to the median of the distribution of the perceived emotional
contagion and synchrony with others scale scores and thus obtained a subset of dancing
performers who reported having had an experience of high perceived emotional
contagion or emotional communion with the group during the dancing performance (N
= 22) and a subgroup of performers who reported to have made but weakly or not at all
that kind of experience (N = 20).
Measurements
Self-esteem. Participants’ general feelings about themselves were assessed by the
French version (Vallières & Vallerand, 1990) of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale
(Rosenberg, 1965) used in the first study (Cronbach's α = .77).
Affects. The 20-items of the "State" part of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
(STAI) (Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) translated in French (Schweitzer &
Paulhan, 1990) were used to assess affects (worry, tension, apprehension, and
nervousness. Scores of 9 items (e.g., I feel strong, poised, balanced, thoughtful) and
tapping relaxation, positive mood and self-confidence was used as index of positive
affect (Cronbach's α = .79);
Social integration. Participants’ perception of social integration was assessed as
in the first study by the 10-item Feeling of Relatedness Scale developed in French by
Richer et Vallerand, (1998) (ESAS - Echelle du Sentiment d'Appartenance Sociale).
The reliability was found satisfactory as the Cronbach's α amounted .92.
Social Beliefs. We assessed participants’ social beliefs using the same shorter
version of the World Assumptions Scale (Janoff-Bulman, 1989) and the Belief in a Just
World Scale (Dalbert, Montada, & Schmitt, 1987) used in the first study. Relibialities
were satisfactory Cronbach's α =.81 and .84 respectively.
Oneness with group. Inclusion of the Other in the Self Scale IOS (Gómez et al,
2011). A pictorial measure of interpersonal interconnectedness was used to asses fusion
of identity with the others members of the group. The scale is composed by diagrams,
each representing different degrees of overlap of two circles representing the self and
the other. The overlap progresses linearly in five steps starting with no overlap (=1) and
ending in almost total overlap(=5). The scale was used to assess oneness of the self with
other members of the class group. Participants were told: “Choose the best diagram that
describes your relationship between you and the other members of your class group”.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with other. An 8-item scale was
developed in order to assess the extent to which participants experienced a condition of
emotional contagion (e. g.,"I was bathed in an emotion shared by the entire group"), and
perceived synchrony when they were dancing with the group of dancers (e. g "we were
all in unison", "I felt vibrating with the other dancers"). Cronbach's alpha calculated for
the sample of dancers showed a satisfactory reliability, α =. 94).
Results
Effects on fusion of identity, self-esteem, positive affect, social integration and
social beliefs. As expected, IOS score correlated strongly with perceived emotional
contagion and synchrony, r(42)=.69,p<.0001. To contrast the outcomes of participation
in dancing, an ANCOVA using baseline or before dependent variable scores as
covariables were performed with high versus low emotional communion as independent
variable and positive affect, self-esteem, social integration and social belief as
dependent variables. Participants with high level of perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony report higher self-esteem ηp2=.14, positive affect ηp2=.16, and social
integration ηp2=.32, but not higher social beliefs (see Table 3).
--------------------------------------
Insert Table 3 about here
---------------------------------------
Discussion
Taking into consideration the result of the present study we can conclude
prediction was confirmed, and perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with otres
is indeed correlated with fusion of identity. Furthermore, higher level of perceived
emotional contagion and synchrony was associated to stronger social integration,
positive affect and self-esteem, controlling for base line. However, social beliefs were
not influenced, probably because this dance performance did not includ symbolically
loaded ideology. One of the limitations of this study is that IOS measures were taken at
the same time as perceived emotional contagion and synchrony measures. In the next
longitudinal study measures of fusion of identity will be collected before, during and
after the collective gathering, and post-test will be taken in a third time, after the
performance. In addition, the subsequent study assess participation in a collective
gathering which implies implicit positive beliefs and so we expect that social beliefs
will be reinforced.
Study 5.- Participation in folkloric celebrations pseudo-military marches.-
In the next longitudinal study we will contrast the role of collective ritualized
gathering as an antecedent of fusion of identity, including measures of oneness with
group before, during and after the event. This study relied upon an important folk
tradition that has continued since the XIX century in San Sebastian (The Basque
Country – autonomic community in northern Spain), “Tamborrada” or collective drum
marches. Every year, during twenty-four hour long celebration, processions
accompanied by large groups of “drum players” are filling the streets of the town. This
celebration involves several thousand inhabitants who train all year and wear
Napoleonian style military uniforms while parading. They are playing drums, marching
and singing traditional songs in synchrony as pseudo-military companies, similarly to
the walkers from the first study. For these walkers and for all inhabitants of San
Sebastian this celebration represents symbolic moments of high emotional impact.
We expect that participants in “Tamborrada” who experience higher emotional
communion and perception of similarity, unity and oneness with group during the
celebration would report higher well-being, enhanced social integration, strong
convergence of personal and collective identity, a fusion of identity or oneness with the
group, enhanced positive social representations of basic social beliefs after the
participation (controlling for baseline or pre-test scores). Furthermore, we expect a
climatic increase of unity and integration of self and social identity during collective
emotional gathering, that after would probably decrease but stay should at a higher level
than before the marches, confirming the centrality of fusion of identity as a process
explaining positive outcomes.
Method
Participants
A longitudinal study compares beliefs and group processes between participants
in San Sebastian´s “Tamborrada”. Researchers contacted the Town Hall officials and
coordinators of folkloric companies to recruit volunteers who would participate in the
celebration held on 20th of January 2013. The sample consisted of 330 volunteers
between the age of 18 and 75 years old (M = 40.26 years, SD = 12.16). Most (82.3%)
were residents of San Sebastian; 44.4% were female.
Procedure
Participants responded to the questionnaire two days before Tamborrada and
again two days after. Measures of well-being, social integration and social belief were
taken before and after the folkloric march, while IOS scale was assessed before, during
and after the event. On line encrypted personal mails were used to collect data. The
afternoon of Tamborrada participants were asked to respond to the scale which
measures perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others in the context of
their participation in the folkloric march.
Measures
Personal well being (PHI) Pemberton Happiness index (Hervas & Vazquez,
2012) was applied. It contains 11 items related to different domains of general,
eudaimonic, hedonic, and social well-being, which can be transformed into a single
well-being index using the 11 items. Items were answered on a 11-point rating scale (0
= disagree strongly to 10 = agree strongly). Cronbach´s α was .89 at pre- and .92 at
post-evaluation.
Social integration. Participants’ perception of social integration was assessed by
the 10-item Feeling of Relatedness Scale developed by Richer and Vallerand (1998)
(ESAS). The scale obtained a Cronbach´s α of .963 at pre- and .976 ant post evaluation.
Oneness with group. Inclusion of the Other in the Self Scale IOS (Gómez et al,
2011). The same pictorial measure of interpersonal interconnectedness used in study 4
was applied to asses fusion of identity with the others members of the group.
Social Beliefs. We assessed participants’ social beliefs using a shorter version of
the World Assumptions Scale (Janoff-Bulman, 1989) and the Belief in a Just World
Scale (Dalbert, Montada, & Schmitt, 1987) described in the first study. Reliabilities
were satisfactory, .84 at pre- and .85 at post-evaluation.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others. An extended version
18 items scale of Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was applied
showing a satisfactory reliability α =.97 as well validity in this and others studies (Páez
et al., 2013).
Results
Psychological well-being, social support, oneness with the group and social
beliefs by high versus low emotional communion participation using baseline as co-
variable.
To contrast the first hypothesis on the positive outcomes of participation in
Tamborrada, an ANCOVA using baseline or before dependent variable scores as
covariables were performed with high versus low perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony as independent variable and well-being, social support, IOS and social
beliefs as dependent variables (see Table 4). Scores increases in general from pre to
post-tests, as expected baseline predicts post-test scores, but more importantly,
controlling for pre test scores, scores were higher in all variables in the high emotional
communion group by comparison to low level. High emotional communion marchers
reports higher well-being after their participation, F(1,314)=33.49, p<.03, ηp2=.096, as
well as high perception of social integration, F(1,314)=35.73, p<.03, ηp2=.10, strong
feeling of oneness with the group, F(1,314)=21.77, p<.03, ηp2=.065 and share a more
positive or benevolent and just perception of the world, F(1,314)=12.3, p<.03, ηp2=.037.
Repeated measure ANOVA was used to contrast the second hypothesis, showing
that time effect was significant for IOS, quadratic effect being significant F(1,314)=46.14,
p<.001, ηp2= .12 showing that feeling of oneness with the group was climatically higher
during the folkloric march, and although decreased after remained higher than before.
Interaction of quadratic time effect by high versus low emotional was not significant,
F1,314)=2.84, p<.09, ηp2= .009, even if a visual examination suggest that IOS remain
highly particularly when emotional communion was high (see Figure 1).
Discussion
This longitudinal study confirms the first hypothesis: participation in a collective
emotional gathering induces high level of emotional contagion and synchrony,
perception of similarity and unity. In addition, it increases participants’ positive affect
and view of the self, measured by a short hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing scale,
strengths feelings of group belonging and social integration, as well as reinforces
positive social representations or shared social beliefs. More importantly, results
confirms that collective ritualized gatherings enhance fusion of identity or merging of
personal and collective self, being these effects strong during the climax of enacting the
ritual, confirming the “collective effervescence” reinforcement of social identity, but
also remaining higher than before the celebration.
Study 6.- Participants in an experimentally induced secular ritual or
demonstration
Longitudinal design like the previous one is open to alternative explanations like
self-selection even if the before after comparison takes into account baselines. Studies
based on experimental induction accompanied by appropriate controls would provide
more convincing evidence. In the next study we will contrast the effect of the
participation in an experimentally induced demonstration on collective self-esteem and
fusion of identity using the canonical pictorial measure. We expect that participants in a
collective gathering or demonstration should report higher collective self-esteem and
oneness with the group or fusion of identity in comparison to a control group.
Participants
Participants in the study were 62 social work students (85.4% female) from the
University of the Basque Country, who took part voluntarily. Mean age was 20.87
(SD=2.96). All students who decided to take part in the study were asked to declare
their availability in two weeks after the first data collection; however some of them
were finally excluded because they did not complete all the three questionnaires.
Procedure
Social work students were randomly assigned to participate in a collective
activity, or to a control condition. The collective activity consisted in elaborating anti-
racist slogans in a group and exhibiting them during a demonstration in the campus for
half an hour whereas in the control individual participants did not perform the activity.
Measures were taken before and after the event. Participants were initially assigned to
collective (N=21) and control (N=41) condition.
Measures
Collective self-esteem scale (CSE). Private collective self-esteem subscale of
collective self-esteem scale (Luthanen & Crocker, 1992) was applied. Items were
answered on a 7-point rating scale (1 = disagree strongly to 7 = agree strongly).
Cronbach´s α was .83 at pre- and .84 at post-evaluation.
Oneness with group. Inclusion of the Other in the Self Scale (Gómez et al.,
2011). Previously described pictorial measure of interpersonal interconnectedness was
used to asses fusion of identity with the others members of the group.
Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others the extended version
18 items scale of Perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was applied
only to participants in demonstration condition showing a satisfactory reliability α =.87
(Páez et al., 2013).
Results
Collective Self-esteem and fusion of identity by Experimental vs. control group.
Analyses comparing the experimental and the control group and measures were
taken “before” and “after” the event. Baseline or pre test was used as co-variable and an
ANCOVA was run (see Table 4 for post-test marginal means corrected by pre test) and
show a significant effects for CSE, F(1,57)=4.67, p=.035, ηp2=.067 and for IOS F
(1,57)=46.14, p=.0001, ηp2= .20. While the control group showed no change for collective
self-esteem nor for identity fusion the experimental group showed a significant increase
for each of these variables “after” the event.
--------------------------------------
Insert Table 5 about here
---------------------------------------
Finally, perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was
associated to IOS or fusion of identity, r(21)=.54,p<.001 and marginally to collective
self-esteem, r=.28,p<.10.
Discussion
This experimental study thus supported the major points of Durkheim’s theory
of rituals, showing that collective rituals elicit fusion of identity and group integration.
After participating in the activity, collective self-esteem and identity fusion with the
group increased in the demonstration or collective gathering condition compared to the
control group. Moreover, in despite of low degrees of freedom, emotional communion
during demonstrations was related to collective self-esteem and identity fusion.
General Discussion
Participation in a collective emotional gathering by comparison with no
participants increases participants' positive affect and positive view of the self in study 1
and 4 (self-esteem) and more importantly collective self-esteem in the experimental
study 6. Participation was also associated to strong feelings of group belonging and
social integration in study 1, as well to strong fusion of identity in study 6. Participation
was also associated to positive social representations or basic social beliefs in studies 1
and 2.
--------------------------------------
Insert Table 6 about here
---------------------------------------
The central idea of Durkheim's model is that collective gatherings, like
demonstrations and public rituals entail collective psychosocial consequences because
of the particular emotional dynamic they generate. Through emotion elicitation, through
reciprocal emotional stimulation, and through the building up of mutual empathy, those
gatherings bring participants to a stage of emotional fusion or emotional communion.
Feelings such as "we are one" are at the heart of any improvement in feelings of group
belonging and social integration. Our studies allow us to assess this emotional
involvement, confirming successfully the role of emotional communion or perceived
emotional contagion and synchrony with others. Showing the validity of our scale of
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others during collective gatherings,
studies 2 and 3 confirm that emotional communion and convergence of identity with the
group was higher in symbolically loaded collective gatherings, like participation in
social movements versus less relevant mass meetings, or religious rituals versus weekly
secular celebrations.
Moreover, 4 studies confirm at least partially that positive and transcendence
emotions and positive view of the self (e.g. psychosocial well being in study 4) were
higher in particular when participants feel higher perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony with othersweighted r=.26, p<.01 (see Table 6 showing r as effect size by
study and variables).
Also positive basic social beliefs (study 1 and 4) weighted r=.26, p<.01 (see
Table 5), values (study 2), social integration (eg. perception of social support, studies 1,
2, 4, 6) weighted r=.37, p<.01 (see Table 5), and transcendence beliefs (study 3) were
strong when perceived emotional contagion and synchrony with others was higher. In
fact, results show that self transcendence was reinforced during religious activities as
expected, but also that high emotional contagion, in all types of social gatherings,
reinforces transcendence. Participation in collective gatherings and high emotional
contagion reinforced feeling of oneness with the group conceived as measure by the
canonical fusion of identity scale in studies 4, 5 and 6weighted r=.33, p<.01 (see
Table 5). In addition, emotional contagion was not only associated to positive emotions,
but especially to self-transcendent emotions, like hope, awe, inspiration, elevation or
admiration in studies 2 and 3. These results are congruent with studies showing that
emotions support the formation of new beliefs and strength previous beliefs, as well as
self-transcendent emotions increases positive basic beliefs or world assumption (Van
Cappellen, Saroglou, Iweins, Piovesana, & Fredrickson, in press).
Finally, longitudinal study 5 confirms that ritualized gatherings enhance fusion
of identity, particularly during the climax of enacting the ritual, confirming the
“collective effervescence” reinforcement of social identity hypothesis. Collective
effervescence is not only a fuzzy old style concept, but it is a measurable process of
intense shared emotionality, perception of similarity and unity, showing convergent
validity with canonical measures of fusion of identity.
Globally, presented results supports a socio-cultural model approach to
wellbeing both subjective or hedonic (SWB) and psychological well-beings (PWB)
(Ryff, 1989) as an internalized effect of interpersonal and social dynamics, as the
subjective reflection of societal process, on the facets of well-being like affect balance,
self-acceptance, positive relationships with others, purpose in life and personal growth
(see Table 6).
--------------------------------------
Insert Table 7 about here
---------------------------------------
Conclusion
Of course positive effects of social support on mental and physical health are
well-known and positive effects of collective identity were stressed previously, even if
evidence are limited (Haslam et al., 2009). What we analyzed were specific processes or
mechanism underlying positive effects of episodes of intense social interaction,
associated to cultural rituals and social movement dynamics. Our studies suggest that
participation in collective behaviour helps to infuse emotional energy or increases
positive affect and emotions, including feelings referred to social categories, like
collective self-esteem. Our studies can be considered as an empirical validation of
intuitions of authors like Durkheim or Collins and show that collective emotional
gatherings increase positive affect, reinforce affect balance in SWB and self-acceptance
in PWB. In addition, our findings confirm that psychological well-being is increased via
increased social integration obviously associated to the dimension of positive relations
with others- and related strong self-acceptance or self-esteem. Self-transcendence
beliefs, emotions and fusion of identity increases purpose in life, positive relationships
with others, as well as reinforces a worthy and positive, enlarged view of self. Also
suggest that participation in positively valenced collective emotional gatherings
increases world assumptions beliefs or positive social beliefs, by this token reinforce the
dimension of purpose and meaningful life and probably the perception of personal
growth and positive change together with transcendence beliefs and emotions. This is
one of the few studies showing that positively-balanced events are related to more
positive social beliefs or basic world assumptions (Catlin & Epstein, 1992) or to
personal growth (Bilbao, Páez, Da Costa Dutra, & Martínez, 2013) and that positive
affect increases meaning of life (King, Hicks, Krull, & Gaiso, 2006). More importantly,
results suggest that collective gatherings probably reinforced universalism and
benevolence values, increasing merging of the self with the group, or at least the
overlapping of personal self with close others. These positive effects of collective
gatherings are not related only to spiritual or religious rituals or emotions. The core
secular mechanism of positive effect of collective gatherings in psychosocial wellbeing
is based on the increase of shared emotions, reinforcement of perception of similarity,
unity and entitivity with/and of groups. These in turn reinforces positive social beliefs
and social integration. Briefly, results confirm Durkheim intuition that “simple” and
“complex” cultures rituals, as well as religious and secularized collective gatherings, are
similar phenomenon, where the only difference lays upon the supernatural or secular
sacred values, while process and effects are similar.
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Table 1
Comparison of Walkers and Non-Walkers for the various dependent variables
Walkers
N = 93
N = 93
t(184)
p
Social integration
M
5.21
SD
1.04
3.66
.001
View of Self - Negative
M
2.47
SD
1.37
< 1.0
ns
View of Self - Positive
M
5.62
SD
0.88
3.41
.001
Affects - Confidence
M
5.40
SD
1.06
4.96
.001
Affects- Anxiety
M
2.55
SD
1.26
1.45
ns
Affects - Arousal
M
2.99
SD
1.44
1.49
ns
Beliefs - Benevolence
M
4.45
SD
1.10
4.48
.001
Beliefs - Justice
M
3.88
SD
1.09
3.83
.001
Table 2
Comparison of walkers who reported high perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony, walkers who reported low emotional fusion, and respondents of the two
control groups of non walkers*
Walkers
Non Walkers
F
(3,182)
p
High EC
N = 47
Low EC
N = 46
Group
A
N = 47
Group
B
N = 46
Social integration
M
5.71a
4.70b
4.72b
4.70b
SD
0.83
0.98
0.67
0.98
15.7
.001
View of Self - Negative
M
2.69
2.24
2.66
2.56
SD
1.61
1.03
1.20
0.99
1.27
ns
View of Self - Positive
M
5.70a
5.54ab
5.08c
5.29ab
SD
0.83
0.93
0.92
0.80
4.63
.004
Affects - Confidence
M
5.57a
5.21ab
4.57c
4.70bc
SD
1.11
0.97
1.18
0.88
9.29
.001
Affects- Anxiety
M
2.65
2.45
2.67
2.95
SD
1.39
1.12
1.26
1.27
1.22
ns
Affects - Arousal
M
3.01
2.97
3.16
3.46
SD
1.61
1.26
1.39
1.51
1.09
ns
Beliefs - Benevolence
M
4.68a
4.21ab
3.71b
3.85b
SD
1.19
0.96
0.99
0.88
8.57
.001
Beliefs - Justice
M
4.17a
3.59b
3.36b
3.30b
SD
1.18
0.92
0.90
0.86
7.84
.001
*Mean with different subscripts differed at the level of p < .05 according to Tukey post
hoc comparisons
Table 3
Comparison of Dancers with High and Low Level of perceived emotional contagion and
synchrony for the various dependent variables- estimated means corrected by pre-test
Dancers
High EC
N = 22
Low
EC
N = 20
F
p
Social integration
M
5.86
4.72
SD
.85
0.83
16.60
.001
Positive Self-esteem
M
5.62
5.18
SD
0.73
0.60
5.49
.001
Affects Confidence or Positive affect
M
5.70
5.03
SD
.94
.83
6.53
.001
Beliefs - Benevolence
M
3.70
3.55
SD
0.95
0.83
.34
n.s.
Beliefs - Justice
M
4.21
4.30
SD
1.16
0.73
.14
n.s.
Table 4
Well-being, social integration, fusion of identity and social beliefs by high and low
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony in drum players, using pre-test as
covariable
Drum players
High EC
N = 165
Low EC
N = 154
F(1,314)
Well-being PHI
M
5.66
6.32
SD
1.34
1.15
33.49
.001
Social support
M
5.18
5.77
SD
1.01
.91
35.73
.001
Fusion of identity
M
3.84
4.17
IOS
SD
1.15
0.92
21.77
.001
Social Beliefs
M
3.44
3.67
SD
0.56
0.54
12.3
.001
Figure 1
Oneness with group. Inclusion of the Other in the Self Scale IOS - before, during and after.
Table 5
Comparison of Collective demonstrations and Control for Collective Self-esteem
Inclusion of the Other in the Self Scale IOS marginal means controlling for pre-test
CSE and IOS
Collective
N = 21
Control
N = 41
F(1,57)
p
CSE
M
5.68
4.90
SD
0.80
0.89
4.67
.04
IOS
M
4.23
3.50
SD
0.80
0.89
14.98
.001
Table 6
Effect size estimation of association between participation in collective gatherings,
perceived emotional contagion and synchrony or emotional communion and positive
affect and wellbeing, transcendence beliefs and emotions, social integration, fusion of
identity and social beliefs. Weighted average correlation coefficients are based on
DeCoste and Iselin (2005).
Variable and study
Perceived emotional
synchrony or emotional
communion
Positive affect and well-
being
Weighted r=.26
Psychological Study 4
r=.30**, n=330
Individual Self-esteem
Study 1
Individual Self-esteem
Study 4
r=.26**, n=93
r=.20+, n=42
Collective Self-esteem
Study 5
r=.19*, n=134
Collective Self-esteem
Study 6
r=.28+, n=21
Transcendence beliefs and
emotions
Weighted r=.43
Self-transcendence beliefs
Study 4
r=.44*, n=110
Self-transcendence
emotion Hope Study 5
r=.37**, n=134
Self-transcendence
emotions Study 4
r=.50**, n=110
Social integration
Weighted r=.37
Social integration Study 1
r=.44**, n=93
Social Integration Study 4
r=.72**, n=42
Social support Study 5
r=.34**, n=134
Social integration Study 6
r=.31**, n=330
Fusion of Identity
Weighted r=.33
Study 4 IOS
r=.69**, n=42
Study 2 IOS
r=.25**; n=330
Study 6 IOS
r=.54**, n=21
Social Beliefs and Values
Weighted r=.26
Benevolent and Just world
Study 1
r=.33**, n=93
Benevolent and Just world
Study 4
r=.06, n=42
Values Study 5
r=.22*, n=80
Benevolent and Just world
Study 2
r=.19**, n=330
Table 7
Participation & Perceived
emotional contagion and
synchrony or emotional
communion
Provokes:
Reinforces Subjective
(SWB) and Psychological
wellbeing (PWB)
High positive affect
and self-esteem
Increase Affect Balance in
SWB and self-acceptance in
PWB
Positive and
transcendence
emotions (hope, awe)
Increases affect balance in
SWB, mastery and purpose
in life in PWB
Social Integration
Increases Positive affect in
SWB, Positive relationships
with others in PWB
Self-transcendence
beliefs and fusion of
identity
Increases purpose in life and
Positive relationships with
others in PWB
Positive beliefs and
social values
Increases purpose in life and
Personal growth in PWB
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