Repetitious, Time-Intensive Magical Rituals Considered More Effective, Study Shows

ScienceDaily?  Yep, ScienceDaily:

To find out how people rate the effectiveness of magical rituals, Legare and graduate student André Souza conducted a study in Brazil, a country suffused with rituals called simpatias. Used for solving problems as varied as quitting smoking, curing asthma and warding off bad luck, simpatias are formulaic rituals that involve various steps and repetition.

The psychologists presented 162 Brazilian respondents several versions of these rituals. Each was modified with different characteristics, such as repetition of procedures, number of steps, number of items used, and the presence of religious icons.

As part of the study, Legare asked the respondents to rate the effectiveness of each ritual. According to the findings, three elements of the simpatias had the biggest influence: number of steps, repetition of procedures and a specified time.

Read more at ScienceDaily.

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  • JohnFrancisBittrich

    Try telling that to sigil-wielding chaos magicians. Pretty sure quick and easy can work just as well as long as you’re in the right brainspace.

    • Matt Staggs

      I think that the point of the study is that people who performed lengthy, repetitive rituals *felt* that they were more effective, not that the rituals themselves were more effective. 

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        But in the end, what really matters other than how one “feels”. Would you rather be rich and in good health, but “feeling” like shit, or poor and sick but “feeling” happy and satisfied?

        Also, people seek out magical remedies, such as “simpatias” only because they “feel” that something is wrong and requires correction. So if the ritual makes one “feel” that it has been successful, it has therefore been successful.

        This would be a better study if they had some kind of “controls”. Take random, non-magical, activities that meet the same criteria of complexity, repetition, and time, and see if they work just as well.

        • Jin The Ninja

           the problem is, ‘simpatias’, or sympathetic ‘magic’ in brasil, follows one of several spiritualist syncretic traditions and isn’t solely based on imposition of will, but rather petition to one or several guardian deities.

      • Nostromo Operator

        that’s what you think, Matt. 

        • Liam_McGonagle

          But it’s not an unreasonable thing to think.

          If the purpose of this study was to evaluate the actual effectiveness of the rituals, rather than just the PERCEPTION of effectiveness, they would have conducted a blind control focusing on the evaluation of some neutral 3rd party. 

          This story does not make the methodology precisely clear, but the following excerpt strongly suggests that it was NOT a blind test:

          “As part of the study, Legare asked the respondents to rate the effectiveness of each ritual. According to the findings, three elements of the simpatias had the biggest influence: number of steps, repetition of procedures and a specified time.”

          In order to make such a judgment, the repsondents must have had some role in the rituals–either as active performers or less active witnesses.

        • Matt Staggs

          Nostromo Operator, I’m not judging whether either or neither form of ritual is effective or not. Neither is the study itself. The study was about the perceptions of those performing these rituals. It’s a simple distinction.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yes.  I’m sure it can.

    From the point of view of creating such a large personal investment in the ritual that you’d be willing to misinterpret the slightest, most ambiguous anamoly as a “success”, yes. 

    Same principle underlying financial capitalism, really.  Cubicle life is just so g*ddamned boring that you simply cannot allow yourself to believe that you’ve squandered 80 hours per week for the last 20 years.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    my own experimentation with rituals confirms this
    I conjecture that it works in ways similar to the placebo effect
    which somehow focuses thought into actions and effects
    that are inline with the desired result

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