Professor Harvey Whitehouse (University of Oxford)


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Elise Kalokerinos

Join us for this MSPS Hybrid Colloquium where Professor Harvey Whitehouse of the University of Oxford presents the talk, 'Emotions in Everyday Life and Personality Change'.


Rituals are a way of defining the boundaries of social groups and binding their members together. In this lecture, Professor Harvey Whitehouse seeks to unravel the psychology behind these processes, to explain how ritual behaviour evolved and how different kinds of ritual performance have shaped global history over many millennia.

Efforts to test the ‘ritual modes’ theory have used a wide variety of methods, ranging from field research, large scale multi-country surveys and controlled experiments, to mathematical modelling and quantitative analysis of archaeological, ethnographic and historical datasets. The results of this research point to new ways of addressing cooperation problems in the twenty-first century: from preventing violent extremism and tackling crime to managing global pandemics and motivating action on the climate crisis.


Harvey Whitehouse is Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion at the University of Oxford. He is currently the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant to investigate the role of rituals in binding groups together and motivating inter-group competition and conflict. Whitehouse is also a founding director of Seshat: Global History Databank which is being used to test various hypotheses concerning the role of rituals in the evolution of social complexity.

Hear about upcoming events by joining the MSPS School Colloquium mailing list. To be added to this list, please email Dr Elise Kalokerinos (