PSY BEH 100 Lecture 5: PSB 100 03/14

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University of California - Irvine
Psychology and Social Behavior

Religion: Evolution and God: -diversity in how religion’s interpret evolution and vice versa Lancet fluke (microorganism that enters the brain’s of the ant) -leads to maladaptive behavior of ants → we are the ant and the lancet fluke is religion What is adaptive for religion itself and less adaptive for the individual (genes) Religion is a parasite on the human species -maladaptive to engage in religious beliefs and behaviors Genetic evolutionary account → religion evolved because it was adaptive for the individual Mind virus account → religion is a cultural idea, not genetically evolved to be adaptive, maladaptive Cultural evolutionary account → culturally spread because it was actually adaptive to us and our groups Religious cognition emerged as a byproduct (spandrel) Mutualism - religion was made for us -religious cognition as an evolutionary byproduct + Humans have the tendency to presume agency, even when it doesn’t exist Presume agency first, ask questions later - pay special attention to the possibility of agency ^ Hypersensitive agency detection device (HADD) -has the consequence, as a byproduct, to lead us to believe in supernatural agents -imagining leads to simulations of possibilities; it is difficult for the human brain to imagine nonexistence Religious cognition as an evolutionary byproduct: Genetic adaptation → evolutionary byproduct → religious cognition HADD → supernatural agency → (consequence of) perception of gods Theory of mind/ self reflective consciousness → ability to conceive of the future, but inability to conceive non-existence → perception of afterlives Separate systems for understanding physical and social objects → intuitive mind/ body dualism → perception of souls Cultural evolution: religion made useful: -these spandrels form the raw materials for cultural evolution -cultural elaborations of these raw beliefs competed -some of these helped their societies survive and thrive in the face of selection pressures -these thriving societies were able to outcompete and triumph over others -as a result, modern/ successful religions are made up of these historically ‘culturally adaptive’ elements Individual utility variants: Terror management - certain existential terrors of living (ex. dying). Religion makes these aspects a little more bearable; lessens anxiety Social utility variants: -Food taboos and hygiene rituals - make sure people are not eating things that will make them sick and take care of personal hygiene -group coordination -shaped by cultural group selection Group coordination: Problem = big groups (populations of larger than 150) Cultural solution to this problem → big gods (monitor and punish you) Supernatural puni
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