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Chapter 8

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ingroups And Outgroups, Social Loafing


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 215
Professor
Donald Taylor
Chapter
8

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PSYC215 Chapter 8 Notes
Definitions:
Natural Selection: The evolutionary process by which nature selects traits that best enable organisms to
survive and reproduce in particular environmental niches
Evolutionary Psychology: The study of the evolution of behaviour using principles of natural selection
Culture: The enduring behaviours, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and
transmitted from one generation to the next
Norms: Rules for accepted and expected behaviour. Norms prescribe proper behaviour (In a different
sense of the word, norms also describe what most others do what is normal)
Individualism: The concept of giving priority to ones own goals over group goals and defining ones
identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identification
Collectivism: Giving priority to the goals of ones groups (often ones extended family or work group)
and defining ones identity accordingly
Holistic Reasoning: Reasoning that emphasizes considering all possible influences and balancing
competing forces
Analytical Reasoning: Reasoning that emphasizes the proper use of rules and that contradictory
statements cannot be true
Superordinate Goal: A shared goal that necessitates cooperative effort; a goal that overrides peoples
differences from one another
Interaction: The effect of one factor (such as biology) depends on another factor (such as environment)
Chapter Notes:
In viewing human similarities and differences, two perspectives dominate current thinking: an
evolutionary perspective, emphasizing human kinship, and a cultural perspective, emphasizing
human diversity. Nearly everyone agrees that we need both
We are all social creatures. We join groups, conform, and recognize distinctions of social status.
We return favours, punish offences, and grieve a childs death. As children, beginning at about
eight months old, we fear strangers, and as adults we favour members of our own groups
The universal behaviours that define human nature arise from our biological similarity. Some
100,000 to 200,000 years ago, we were all Africans. As we dispersed to different habitats and
adapted to our new environments, humans developed differences that, measured on
anthropological scales
To explain the traits of our species, and of all species, recall Charles Darwins proposed
evolutionary process. As organisms vary, nature selects those best equipped to survive and
reproduce in particular environments. Genes that produced traits that increased the odds of
leaving descendants became more abundant
The process of natural selection, long an organizing principle of biology, has recently become an
important principle for psychology as well. Evolutionary psychology studies how natural
selection predisposes not just adaptive physical traits suited to particular contexts, but also
psychological traits and social behaviours that enhance the preservation and spread of ones
genes
As mobile gene machines, we carry the legacy of our ancestors adaptive preferences. We long
for whatever helped them survive, reproduce, and nurture their offspring to survive and
reproduce

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Evolutionary psychologists highlight these universal characteristics that are handed down from
our ancestors. Cultures, however, provide the specific rules for working out the elements of
social life
The hallmark of our species is our capacity to learn and adapt. Ironically, it is our shared human
biology that enables our cultural diversity
Evolutionary psychology incorporates environmental influences. It recognizes the nature and
nurture interact in forming us. Genes are not fixed blueprints; their expression depends on the
environment
We humans have been selected not only for big brains and biceps but also for social
competence. We come prepared to learn language and to cooperate in securing good, caring for
young, and protecting ourselves. Nature therefore predisposes us to learn whatever culture we
are born into
The cultural perspective, while acknowledging that all behaviour requires our evolved genes,
highlights human adaptability. Peoples natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far
apart.
The diversity of our languages, customs, and expressive behaviours suggests that much of our
behaviour is socially programmed, not hardwired. The genetic leash is indeed long
If we all lived as homogeneous ethnic groups in separate regions of the world, as some people
still do, cultural diversity would be less relevant. Example: 126 million of 127 million residents of
Japan are Japanese, therefore, minimal internal cultural differences. On the contrary, Toronto is
composed of dozens of ethnic groups
Cultural conflicts have been described as the AIDS of international politics lying dormant for
years, then flaring up to destroy countries
Princess Dianas death typifies globalization in the sense of the variety of cultures and cultural
production involved in her death
In a world divided by wars, genuine peace requires respect for both differences and similarities
As etiquette rules illustrate, all cultures have their accepted ideas about appropriate behaviours.
We often view these social expectations, or norms, as a negative force that imprisons people in
a blind effort to perpetuate tradition
Norms do restrain and control us so successfully and so subtly that we hardly sense their
existence
Norms can be arbitrary and confining. In unfamiliar situations, when the norms may be unclear,
we monitor others behaviour and adjust our own accordingly. In familiar situations, our words
and acts come effortlessly
Thanks to human adaptability, cultures differ. Yet, beneath the veneer of cultural differences,
there lies an essential universality. AS members of one species, the processes that underlie our
differing behaviours are much the same everywhere
Around the world, people tend to describe others as more or less stable, outgoing, open,
agreeable, and conscientious. If a test specifies where you stand on these Big Five personality
dimensions, it pretty well describes your personality, no matter where you live
Kwok Leung and Michael Bond says there are five universal dimensions of social beliefs:
cynicism (powerful people tend to exploit others), social complexity (one has to deal with
matters according to the specific circumstances), reward for application (one will succeed if
he/she really tries), spirituality (religious faith contributes to good mental health), and fate
control (fate determines ones success and failures). Peoples adherence to these social beliefs
appears to guide their living. Those who espouse cynicism express lower life satisfaction and
favour assertive influence tactics and right-wing politics while those who espouse reward for
application are inclined to invest themselves in studying, planning, and competing
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