IACM 2022 Abstract Book »
Collective transcendence beliefs shape the sacredness of cultural objects
To explain the sacredness observed in many cultural objects, we used art as a case study to develop and test a theory wherein collective transcendence beliefs –beliefs that a cultural object links the collective to something larger and more important than the self – are a key determinant of art's sacredness (N = 5,304). Initial inductive and explorative studies pointed to perceptions of collective spirituality and historical significance to humanity as the collective transcendence beliefs underlying the sacredness of art, and we also identified collective meaning as the underlying mechanism. Six experimental studies then demonstrated that heightening the collective spirituality and historical significance of an artwork resulted in higher ratings of collective meaning, sacredness, worthy of protection from the profane, and moral outrage in the face of desecration.