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Lecture 6

Week 6 - Language and Intelligence.docx

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Igor Grossmann

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Week 6: Language and Intelligence The Bell Curve - Intelligence is accurately measurable across racial, language, and national boundaries - Intelligence is largely heritable (40-80%) - Intelligence is not changeable –environmental factors are negligible and educational programs have failed Suggestions from Authors of Bell Curve - Stop idiocracy –US genetic IQ is declining due to intelligent people having fewer children than less intelligent people - Stop immigration from Latin America –larger scale immigration to the US of those with low IQ - Eliminate welfare policies –US government encourages the wrong women to get babies - Stop affirmative action –back genes are just not as good for IQ Language and Thought Benjamin L. Whorf - A chemist who changed the way we think about language - Linguistic relativity - Indo-European languages promoting essentialism - Whorfian Hypothesis o Strong version –language determines thought  Without access to the right words, people cannot have certain kinds of thoughts  Largely rejected o Weak version –language influences thought  Having access to certain words influences the kinds of thoughts one has  Much controversy surrounding this claim in the past but there is recent support Language and Colour Perception - Although colour exists along a continuum, colour terms are discrete - While colour terms differ around the world, there are patterns to these colour terms 1 - Cultures do seem to carve up the colour spectrum differently with different boundaries - The question is –if people don’t have a word for green, do they still see green the same way? Roberson, Davidoff, and Davies (2000) - Studied English, Berinmo, and Himba speaking populations o Berinmo – hunter-gatherers in Papua, New Guinea o Himba – nomadic herders in Namibia - Researchers gave participants a target colour chip, which differed in hue to 2 comparison colour chips o One comparison colour chip crossed a colour boundary from the target colour chip o Another comparison colour chip did not - People make more judgments consistent with categorical perception for stimuli that cross the boundary between 2 colour labels in their own language, compared with stimuli that cross a colour-label boundary in other languages 2 Language and Spatial Perception - Some languages have egocentric spatial terms (e.g., right, left, front) - Others use cardinal directions (e.g., north, east) - How does this affect people’s perception of spatial orientation? - Representing space in absolute terms is common among most subsistence societies in the world - Chimpanzees also don’t represent space in egocentric ways Study: Dutch and Guugu Ymithirr Speakers - Participants were shown some objects in one room then asked to re-create the scene in another room o One condition –they faced the same cardinal direction in the same room  North-facing room  north-facing room o Another condition –they faced a different direction in the second room  North-facing room  south-facing room Original stimulus –everyone facing North Dutch solution in south-facing room Guugu Ymthirr solution in south- facing room 3 - English speakers think of time as passing from left to right, whereas Australian aborigines think of time as passing from east to west - Hence, an aborigine would chronologically arrange the pictures differently depending on the direction he/she is facing Language and Math - Much of numeric cognition is a cultural invention –people have few innate math abilities - Young children can represent numbers up to 3 –anything more requires cultural learning - Some cultures do not have number terms beyond 2 –e.g., Piraha from the Amazon have terms that corresponding to 1, 2, and many Anthropocentricism - There has been a long-held view that people are innately anthropocentric - Anthropocentricism: projecting qualities of people into animals, but not the other way around - These were based on studies with urban children in the West with little experience with animals - Similar studies with indigenous populations in the United States and Mexico have shown no evidence of anthropocentricism among children Culture and Creativity - Westerners and Easterners have been shown to demonstrate different types of creativity - Traditionally, Socratic learning leads the individual to engage in self-discovery and Confucian learning leads the individual to focus on mastery of the material - Individualistic cultures thus tend to focus on novelty –more likely to create novel and “game-changing” innovations - Collectivistic cultures tend to focus on usefulness and appropriateness –more
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