Brooks and team’s study indicates how important it is to design spaces so that they support rituals. The researchers found that “From public speaking to first dates, people frequently experience performance anxiety. And when experienced immediately before or during performance, anxiety harms performance. Across a series of experiments, we explore the efficacy of a common strategy that people employ to cope with performance-induced anxiety: rituals. We define a ritual as a predefined sequence of symbolic actions often characterized by formality and repetition that lack direct instrumental purpose. Using different instantiations of rituals and measures of anxiety (both physiological and self-report), we find that enacting rituals improves performance in public and private performance domains by decreasing anxiety.”
Alison Brooks, Julianna Schroeder, Jane Risen, Francesca Gino, Adam Galinsky, Michael Norton, and Maurice Schweitzer. 2016. “Don’t Stop Believing: Rituals Improve Performance by Decreasing Anxiety.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 137, pp. 71-85.