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Lecture 2

PSYC14H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Evolution, Fecundity, Sexual Selection

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PSYC14: Cross-Cultural Social Psychology Clara Rebello
PSYC14 Lecture 2: Evolutionary Foundations of Cultural Psychology
Biological evolution
o Replication of genes
o Natural selection
o Sexual selection
Biological genes analogous to cultural memes
o Longevity: Living a long time
o Fecundity: Ability to produce many new ideas
If a story is really popular, more people will retell it
o Fidelity: Faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty
and support
Cultural evolution
o Replication of ideas
o Communicable ideas spread
Body language, expressions, etc.
Socially unacceptable ideas are not usually expressed
o Useful ideas spread
People want to feel of value
o Emotional ideas spread
Example: Adding emotional appeal to story, so that others will be more
interested in it
Generally, the best way to bond is to gain acceptance from group Emotion is
an efficient way to engage someone else’s attention and feelings
Emotional ideas are remembered better
o Minimally counterintuitive ideas spread
Hunter-gatherer adaptedness
o Groups were usually small
o They were usually nomadic
Constantly moving to new land
o Daily life involved physical challenge
o Disease produced high rates of mortality
Diseases weren’t chronic and were usually infectious
Would spike and people would die quickly
o Most activities occurred in highly social contexts
Small community
o Privacy was limited
o Conflicts dealt with thru extensive group discussions
Community is very cohesive and necessary for survival
o These generalizations describe the contexts in which almost all human evolution and
history have occurred
Technology can evolve at a very fast rate, but our biology can only evolve so
much in a shorter time
Homo‐erectus was born 1.8 million years ago
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PSYC14: Cross-Cultural Social Psychology Clara Rebello
o About 500,000 years ago, these hominids began developing increasingly larger brains
o Despite their larger brains, they left no evidence of art, religion, or language
Homosapiens came on the scene approximately 150,000 years ago
o They had the capacity for developing language
o Communication was much more efficient
o Community became much more sophisticated
o Prefrontal cortex develops in meaningful ways Better ability to plan and coordinate
Domestication of plants and animals was a monumental change in human history Industrial
o Using animals as a resource rather than just butchering them for food
Example: Form of transportation
o Resulted in a new way of living
Now sedentary, no longer nomadic
No longer need to keep moving around
Surplus amount of food Trade system (Exchanging, selling)
More time to enhance/develop new skills like weaving and crafting
o Farming (Agriculture)
o Pastoralism: Herding sheep, goats, cattle, horses, camels
o Crop-growing (Cultivating domesticated plants)
o Development of farming communities
Between about 12,000 and 1000 BC
o Farming appeared independently
in a number of places
o Industrial revolution’s appearance
seems sudden and random
o Evolution of culture depends on
the quality of the environment
Examples: Soil richness
o Possibly in all the places marked
on the map
Hunter-gatherer vs. farming communities
o We live our lives today comfortably with excess resources
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