New research from the University of Kent has identified prosocial behaviors and connections between people who attend raves, which may help explain why rave culture has endured for the past three decades.
While there is a stigma associated with rave culture and the drugs often associated with it, new findings published by Frontiers in Psychology provide information on significant links developed between ravers that may be relevant to clinical therapies.
Dr Martha Newson, cognitive anthropologist at the School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) at the University of Kent, studied the psychology behind group bonds and prosocial behaviors in raves using a new model of ritual engagement. This model assesses the altered states of consciousness common in group rituals, which Dr. Newson identified as the “4Ds”: dancing, drums, sleep deprivation, and drugs. Through a retrospective online survey of those who attended memorable raves or free parties, Dr. Newson investigated whether attendees engaged in 4Ds and whether this in turn was associated with feelings. admiration and personal transformation.
Attending 4Ds at raves or free parties was found to be associated with personal transformation for those who experienced the event as awe-inspiring, especially for people with an open personality. The more a person felt personally transformed by the experience, the more they felt connected to the group and the more ready they were to donate to a related charity.
The results suggest that among 4Ds, dancing and drugs, especially psychedelics, were most strongly associated with building meaningful social bonds in a ritualized environment. Dr Newson suggests that this is closely related to the potential for therapeutic benefits of feeling part of a group that could play a key role in psychedelic therapies. She said:
“Psychedelics have a deep-rooted stigma associated with recreational drug use and harm, but they are increasingly used in clinical drug therapy studies in search of more effective treatment pathways – for example, the treatment of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even anorexia.
“We found positive associations between dancing and the use of psychedelic drugs during these group rituals with feelings of dread and social connection that could prove useful in supporting the growing wealth of clinical therapies.
“Undoing the negative connotations associated with rave culture is a big challenge, but this research shows that there are indeed social and behavioral benefits that ravers derive from the experience. Our need to connect meaningfully with others will always prevail – whether it’s singing in a church choir or stomping on electronic music in an abandoned warehouse.
Newson M, Khurana R, Cazorla F, van Mulukom V. “I get high with a little help from my friends” – How raves can invoke identity fusion and lasting cooperation through transformative experiences. Frontiers in Psychology. 2021; 12: 4303. doi: 10.3389 / fpsig.2021.719596
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