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Study says going to festivals can make you more connected to humanity

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Happy hipster woman crowd surfing at a music festival
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By Jim Leffman via SWNS

Going to a festival can leave you more connected to humanity and more willing to help strangers for at least six months afterwards, a new Yale study reveals.

British festivals Latitude and Burning Nest were just some of the gatherings studied for the latest research.

And although more than 63 percent said they had undergone a "transformative experience,"only 28 percent of them had taken psychedelic drugs.

There have been many studies on the positive psychological effects of religious gatherings and pilgrimages but little research on secular festivals.

Religious rituals and ceremonies have been found to create intense social bonds and feelings of unity in human societies.

So a team of psychologists from Yale University wondered if modern day secular gatherings that emphasize creativity and community serve an even broader purpose.

The researchers studied people’s subjective experiences and social behaviour at secular mass gatherings, such as the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.


They also looked at the UK's Burning Nest and Latitude festivals as well as California's Lightning in a Bottle and Dirty Bird gatherings.

They found that people who reported transformative experiences felt more connected with all of humanity and were more willing to help distant strangers

Dr. Daniel Yudkin , first author of the paper published in the journal Nature Communications said : "We’ve long known that festivals, pilgrimages, and ceremonies make people feel more bonded with their own group.

“Here we show that experiences at secular mass gatherings also have the potential to expand the boundaries of moral concern beyond one’s own group.”

The research team conducted field studies of more than 1,200 people attending multi-day mass gatherings in the United States and United Kingdom.

The researchers set up booths at the events inviting passers-by to “Play Games for Science.”

Those who agreed to participate were asked about their experiences at the events along with their willingness to share resources with friends and strangers.

Overall, 63.2 percent of participants reported having transformative experiences so profound that they left the events feeling radically changed, including a substantial number of people who did not expect or desire to be transformed.

But the transformative experiences were more intense among the 28 percent of subjects who reported taking psychedelic substances.

People who reported transformative experiences also reported feeling more socially connected with all human beings and with every passing day they spent at these events, participants expanded their circle of generosity beyond family and friends towards including distant strangers.

The team recontacted some of the original attendees and also 2,000 people who had attended the event but were not originally interviewed.

The researchers found that transformative experiences and their prosocial feelings persisted at least six months.

Yudkin added: “The findings are an important reminder of what we’ve missed in years of pandemic isolation.

“Powerful social experiences, or what the sociologist Emile Durkheim called ‘collective effervescence.’”

Molly Crockett, Associate Professor of Psychology at the university added: “Transformative experiences help people transcend the borders of the self and connect with all of humanity — crucial qualities to cultivate as we work to end this pandemic and prevent future ones.”

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Denver and University of Bath in the United Kingdom contributed to the study.

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