The Psychology of Ritual

Colloquium | December 4 | 12:10-1:15 p.m. | 1104 Berkeley Way West

 Michael I. Norton, Professor, Harvard Business School

 Institute of Personality and Social Research

Rituals are ubiquitous in our personal lives – enacted before performances or during family holidays – and in our interactions with firms – from sports fans doing the “wave” to customers being served wine after an elaborate uncorking. Our research has documented the benefits of rituals in domains ranging from grief recovery to chocolate consumption to team performance to singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” And, we have identified the psychological underpinnings of rituals, demonstrating how they can lead to increased immersion in experiences, greater feelings of control, reduced anxiety, and increased liking for teammates.

Michael I. Norton is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has studied human behavior in domains such as love and inequality, time and money, and happiness and grief. He is the co-author – with Elizabeth Dunn – of the book, Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending. In 2012, he was selected for Wired Magazine’s Smart List as one of “50 People Who Will Change the World” and his TEDx talk, How to Buy Happiness, has been viewed more than 4 million times.

 ipsr@berkeley.edu, 510-642-5050