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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Sisi Tran

PSYC14 Chapter 1 Culture & Human Nature - Human not strong, not very fast, dont have sharpt teeth or claws etc. dont seem fit to survive o BUT we have populated more parts of the world, in more diverse ecologies, using broader rate of subsistence systems and social arrangements than any other species Have one adaption that compensates all we lack we have culture A Psychology for a Cultural Species - Humans are a cultural species - Many ways people from different cultures lives differently speak diff languages, different customs, diff diets, diff religious views, diff child rearing practices etc. - Cultural psych thesis people from different culture also differ in their psychology notion that psychological processes are shaped by experience - BUT experiences dont determine them psychological processes are constrained and afforded by the neurological structures that underlie them o Since everyone have similar brain people from all over the world share the same constraints and affordances of the universal brain o This tension b/w universal & cultural variable psychologies --. A theme What is culture? - This question debated among anthro, socio, pscyh for decades - no single answer This book culture mean 2 things : st - 1 term indicate a particular kind of information specifically mean any kind of info that is acquired from other members of ones species via social learning that is capable of affecting an individuals behavior o Any kind of idea, belief, technology, habit, or practice acquired via social learning - 2 term to indicate a particular group of individuals culture are people who are existing within some kid of shared context o Within given culture exposed to many of same cultural ideas, attend same cultural institutions, engage in similar cultural practices, have conversation w/ each other day- to-day basis etc. Few challenges to thinking groups of people as constituting cultures st - 1 boundaries of cultures not clear cut e.g. person might be exposed to cultural ideas from distant locations e.g. from immigrant parents, from travelling etc. boundaries not distinct o One way to separate boundary is to look at nationality as rough indicator of culture o This fluidity of culture weakens search for difference b/w cultures but if such diff found this is powerful evidence that cultures do differ in their psychological tendencies - 2 culture changes over time & some shard cultural info disappears as new habits replace the old culture is DYNAMIC & ever changing - 3 perhaps most important is that there is much variability among individuals that belong to the same culture o Each : Inherit distinct temperaments (born w/ predisopositon to certain personality traits, abilities and attitudes) , belong to unique collection of various soicla groups, have unique history of individual experiences that shape their views o Thus, findings dont apply to equally to all members of cultures they reflect average tendencies w/in a cultural groups e.g. Italians more emotional expressiveness than Germans but cultural membership doesnt determine individual responses Thus, culture dynamic groups of individuals that share a similar context6, exposed to many similar cultural messages & contain a broad range of different individuals who are affected those cultural messages in divergent ways Is culture unique to humans? - Saying culture is symbolic coding circular definition not good using this definition to say only human have culture is wrong Using book definitions of culture as social learning then humans are not the only species w/ culture - Female macaque named Imo (in small island of Japan) washed its potatoes w/in 3 months her mothers & some playmates started to wash their potatoes as well o 3 yrs later 40% of other macaques in Imos troupe were washing potatoes - Chimpanzees love to eat termites chimps from Mt. Assirks in Senegal were shown to use tools to get termites while chimps from Gombe National park use tools but different method (twig fishers vs. bark fishers) these are learned behaviors & culturally transmitted o Have total of 39 different specific behaviors been identified that distinguish some troupes of chimps from others including ways they clean their bodies w/ leaves, attract attention by slapping branches, use objects to tickle themselves - Outside primates elephants in 1919 some citrus farmers wanted offlical annihilate of local population of elephants in south Africa park of Addo o After 1 yr remaining few - given sanctuary somewhere else due to their horrific experience they respond extremely aggressively to humans descents are known to most dangerous elephants in Africa o This aggressive culture parallels the aggressive human culture in culture that have experienced generations of continuing warfare (e.g. Sambia of New Guinea) - w/ dolphins, whales in terms of feeding strategies & in vocalizations & pigeons learn specific food acquisition strategy from other pigeons & Guppies etc. Cultural Learning - Though human not unique to cultural learning, do stand out in terms of the extent of our cultural learning skills o E.g. w/ Imos group took more year to learn potato washing by others & some never figured it out vs. humans - frequent learning of new info from each other & often w/ only single exposure to it Humans unique among other species in whom they chose to imitate we are particular it vs. Imos group - concerned w/ detecting prestige seek others who have skills & respected by others & they try to imitate what these individuals are doing is very efficient way of cultural learning - this skill of identifying the signs of prestigious individual & imitating them were evolutionary selected had acquired highly useful skills that would give them advantage - Another hard to see what behavior is responsible for behavior thus, best to have general imitating mechanism - using this mechanism we inherited Adverties use prestigious people to sell their products that doesnt have anything to do w/ source of their prestige Human sophisticated cultural learning rest of 2 capacities: - 1 : ability to consider the perspective of others (Theory of Mind) - 2 : ability to communicate w/ languages Theory of Mind - unique to humans when we learn from others we are able to take on perspective of those others - Theory of mind people understand that others have minds are different from their own o e.g. 2 yr points to toy understanding that his mother doesnt know where it is o this seen cross culturally & develop in fairly similar rate across all cultures - Not evident in in most other species even w/ close genetic relatives (chimps) but evidence is somewhat mixed - Chimps trained by humans do appear to take persceptive of others chimps in wild show less evidence (e.g. chimps dont appear to strive to share their experience & activities w/ others) - But w/ confidence human abilities & motivations to imagine the perspective & intentions of others (as well share theirs w/ others) far superior than other species this plays important consequences for cultural learning - By appreciating what someone is trying to do the individual can internalize the goals of others & be better able to reproduce them o = Imitative learning learner internalizes something of the models goals & behavioral strategies (e.g. bob doing something w/ others & by understanding his intentions you reproduce the same behavior)
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