Prestigious by storming the US Capitol : Effects of rituals, the conceptualization of God, and group affiliation



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description On January 6, 2021, a mob of Donald J. Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, challenging the limits of freedom of expression in a democratic political system. One of the invaders—Ashli E. Babbitt—was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer during the incident. While various studies suggest that religious worldviews mold and divide American political identities, not much is known about the effects of religious predictors on the perception of prestige and dominance of individuals who are willing to act aggressively to benefit their group. Hypothesizing that credible displays of pro-group aggression increase prestige and decrease dominance of pro-group aggressors, we studied whether group affiliation, ritual attendance, costly taboos, and the perception of God as punitive and benevolent influence how Americans perceive the aggressive behavior of both the officer and A. E. Babbitt. Our findings suggest a complex picture showing, among other things, that ritual attendance and belief in punitive and benevolent God diversely predict prestige and dominance depending on the group affiliation and the support for the storming. These patterns indicate that ritual and belief can consolidate pro-group aggression during intergroup clashes, stimulating the social influence of emergent in-group authorities.

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