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Title: Ritual in development : improving children's ability to delay gratification
Author: Rybanska, Veronika
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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To be accepted into social groups, individuals must internalise and reproduce appropriate group conventions, such as rituals. The high fidelity copying of such rigid and socially stipulated behavioural sequences places heavy demands on executive function abilities. Given previous research showing that challenging executive functioning also improves it, it was hypothesised that prolonged engagement in ritualistic behaviours would improve executive functioning in children, in turn improving their ability to delay gratification. A three month circle-time-games intervention with primary school children in two contrasting cultural environments (Slovakia and Vanuatu) was conducted. In both environments we found the intervention improved children's executive function and in turn their ability to delay gratification. Moreover, these effects were amplified when the intervention task was imbued with ritual, rather than instrumental, cues. The findings presented in this thesis have potentially far-reaching implications for child-rearing and educational practices, suggesting ritual participation may be necessary for the cultivation of future mindedness.
Supervisor: Whitehouse, Harvey ; McKay, Ryan Sponsor: John Templeton Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Cognitive science ; Child development ; Child psychology ; Self-control in children ; Ritual--Psychological aspects ; Executive functions (Neuropsychology)