Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ritual threats of violence in small Newfoundland communities are method of creating trust

10.10.2007
Similar premise found in everyday behavior around the world

Residents of small isolated fishing villages on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland have participated in the ritual of “mumming” for centuries. According to the tradition, small groups of villagers, or mummers, disguise their identities and go to other houses to threaten violence, whereupon the people of the houses try to guess the intruders’ identities.

A study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia argues that this tradition is a manner of communicating trust and trustworthiness. The mummers who threaten violence must prove themselves trustworthy by not committing a real act of violence, and the hosts of the invaded home must demonstrate trust by not responding to threats with fear or violence, said Christina Nicole Pomianek, an MU doctoral student.

“In this ritual, participants are making themselves vulnerable at the hands of the other,” said Craig T. Palmer, assistant professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. “It’s a way for community members to prove their trust and commitment to each other.”

Mumming traditionally took place in these villages during the 12 days after Christmas. A small group of mummers disguised themselves in costumes and went to a house at night. They rapped on the door with sticks and then entered, regardless of response from the hosts inside. Inside, they threatened the hosts with physical and sexual violence, while the hosts were expected to respond calmly and try to guess the identities of the mummers. If their identities were correctly identified within 10 to 15 minutes, the mummers removed their disguises and often sat down to a friendly drink with the hosts. If their identities were not guessed, the mummers left without disrobing.

The timing of this mumming ritual was just before the long winter months, during which villagers often had to rely on the generosity of neighbors to avoid starvation, Palmer said. He believes that this timing makes sense, since trust during the difficult winter would be particularly important to survival.

Today, mumming in Newfoundland continues only on a small scale, mostly as a tourist attraction. Palmer said that mumming severely declined in the late 1950s and ‘60s, when roads were built to connect the formerly isolated communities to the outside world in the winter. Members of the communities began to fear mumming because “in the back of their minds, they worried some outsider might have come on the road and couldn’t be trusted,” Palmer said.

Pomianek said that similar rituals are practiced today in many communities, including trust-building exercises such as the “trust fall.” She added that many in the corporate world have become interested in exercises that build trust. Palmer pointed to “friendly insults” exchanged between close friends as an everyday ritual of testing and proving trust.

“Trust is very important in all communities,” he said. “Most people don’t live in small-scale communities anymore, so we are often uncertain about whether or not we can trust the people with whom we interact. We’re constantly calculating how much we can trust other people.”

Palmer and Pomianek’s study, “Applying Signaling Theory to Traditional Cultural Rituals: The Example of Newfoundland Mumming,” was published in the journal Human Nature this week.

Christian Basi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.missouri.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>