PSYC14H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Imitative Learning, Homo Habilis, Homo Sapiens

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8 Nov 2011
Midterm 1 Study Notes PSYC14H3
Cultural Psychology Integrated Notes (Text/ Supplementary/Lecture)
Chapter 1 - Culture and Human Nature
-A Psychology for a Cultural Species
-culture to mean two different things
-1)a particular kind of information acquired through social learning
that is capable of affecting an individual’s behaviors
-culture is any kind of idea, belief, technology, habit, or practice that is
acquired through learning from others
-2)a particular group of individuals - existing within some kind of
shared context
-Is Culture Unique to Humans?
-Theory of Mind
-people understand that others have minds that are different from
their own, and thus that other people have perspectives and
intentions that are different from their own
-evident in humans across all cultures, and develops at a fairly similar
rate across cultures
- 2 kinds of cultural Learning
-in imitative learning the learner internalizes something of the model’s
goals and behavioral strategies
-emulative learning, the learning is focused on the environmental
events that are involved - how the use of one object could potentially
effect changes in the state of the environment
-the key difference - emulative learning does not require imitating a
model’s behavioral strategies. An emulative learner is not only
focusing on what the model appears to be doing, rather than what the
model intends to accomplish
-the cultural information thus grows in complexity, and often in utility, over
-this process is called the ratchet effect
-psychological mechanisms can undergo cumulative cultural evolution as well
-ex. mathematical reasoning
-this kind of cultural evolution is not possible unless cultural learning is of the
highest fidelity, when individuals are able to understand a model’s
intentions, mimic them, and then, only when the model’s behaviors are
successfully imitated , build on them to allow for cultural evolution
-big brain
-social brain hypothesis - those primates who were most successful at
navigating the intricate and elaborate webs of social relationships
would have been more likely to attract mates, secure resources and
protect themselves and their offspring from dangers than those who
were left to fend for themselves
- The Magic 150
-figure based on their large neocortex ratio, taking into account the
relation between neocortex ratio and average group size
-cognitive capacity to keep track of approximately 150 relations
-Psychological Universals and Variability
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Condense 1 - Monday, November 7, 2011
-Richard Shweder, argues that much of the field inherently assumes that the
minds operates under a set of natural and universal laws that are
independent from content or context
-general psychologists tend to conceive of the mind as a highly abstract
central processing unit (CPU) that operates independently of the content
that it is thinking about or of the context which it is thinking
-according to this perspective of general psychology, important cultural
variation in ways of thinking cannot exist because cultures merely provide
variations in context and content that lie outside the operations of the
underlying CPU
-If cultural differences do appear in psychological studies, this universalist
perspective would suggest that they must reflect the contamination of
various sources of noise, such as translation errors, or the differences in
familiarity that people have with being in psychological experiments
-in contrast, an assumption that tends to be embraced by cultural
psychologists is that in many ways the mind does not operate independently
of what it is thinking about
-many cultural psychologists would argue that culture cannot be separated
from the mind because culture and mind make each other up
-the strongest case for universality can be made when it could be said that a
given cognitive tool exist in all cultures, is used to solve the same problem
across cultures, and is accessible to the same degree across cultures
-this level of universality is termed an accessibility universal
-the second level of universality is termed a functional universal
-here a cognitive tool exists in multiple cultures, it is used to solve the same
problems across cultures, yet it is more accessible to people from some
cultures than others
-the fourth level in the hierarchy reflects an absence of universality and is
termed, a non-universal
-cognitive tools that are non-universals do not exist in all cultures and can be
said to be cultural inventions
Tribes and Super-tribes
-man didn’t evolve as fast biologically/ genetically as much as he did
-feeding behavior
-hunting- encouraged tribe + cooperation
-farming - later could produce more than what they needed so others could
devote time and energy to other tasks
-urban revolution
-didn’t just happen, random locations - and then slowly spread and grew
-soon urban centre began to communicate and share with others
-basic characteristics of a tribe
-a citizen = super-tribesmen
-key difference: in super tribe, he no longer knows personally each member
of his community
-artificial inflation of human social life
-isolating law makes one culture different from another
-started living closer to animals - zoonoses
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Midterm 1 Study Notes PSYC14H3
-population becomes denser
-when the balance of a simple tribe was disturbed we created constructs like
tyranny and dictatorship
-stealing and murder is natural - thats why we have laws against them
-all cultures have equivalent things - ie. rite of passage
-as languages become universal, dialects and accent become important
Lecture 1: Intro
-Commonalities among definitions of culture
-Humans Interact with Environments
-culture is both constrained and shaped by a group’s habitat
-adaptive to the environment
-people develop language, writing, tools, skills, abstract ideas, moral
and aesthetic standards, social patterns norms... in adapting to their
-Culture Consists of Shared Elements
-people share language, time, geographic region
-Transmission to Others
-oblique - institutions
-enculturation - process of transmitting cultural elements to others in
one’s own community, serves as a source of continuity
-acculturation - another form of transmission that takes place from
outside a person’s own cultural group, serves as a source of
-Challenges in Studying Cultures
-Definition varies
-boundaries are unclear
-translation problem
Chapter 2 - Cultural Evolution
-Where does Cultural Variation Come From?
-Ecological and Geographic Variation
-different physical ecologies do not just affect the diets of people; the
different foraging behaviors can also come to affect how the societies
are structured and the values that people come to adopt
-Proximal causes are those that have direct and immediate relations
with their effects
-Distal Causes are those initial differences that lead to effects over
long periods of time, and often through indirect relations
-transmitted vs. Evoked Culture
-evoked culture is the notion that all people, regardless of where they
are from, have certain biologically encoded behavioral repertoires
that are potentially accessible to them and these repertoires are
engaged when the appropriate situational conditions are present
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