CHAPTER 16: LIFESTYLE, STRESS, AND HEALTH
Cultural Evolution: Lifestyle Choices and Consequences
•Cultural evolution – the adaptive change of a culture to recurrent
•Cultural evolution is driven mainly by psychological forces. Cultural evolution
is a product of human intellect and physical capacity, both of which have strong
•Cultural evolution has been the primary agent involved in shaping lifestyle,
the aggregate behaviour of a person, or the way a person leads his or her life.
•Today, there is nor predominant lifestyle; cultural evolution has afforded us
the luxury of choosing among many alternatives. Most of us in Western cultures
no longer worry only about how to stay alive; we now worry about how to spend
our spare time, or about how to have more of it.
•Cultural evolution has resulted in a much higher standard of living than that
of our prehistoric or even our relatively modern ancestors. However, cultural
evolution has also produced threats to our health and safety, like people can be
hit by cars.
•The law of effect undoubtedly plays a powerful role in cultural evolution one
that appears to be analogous to the role of natural selection in biological
evolution. The law of effect states that behaviours that produce favourable
consequences tend to be repeated, and those that produce unfavourable
consequences tend not to be repeated. Cultural practices and customs that
result in reinforcement tend to be maintained, if not elaborated.
•Many unhealthy behaviours have reinforcing consequences in the short run
and damaging consequences in the long run. Many unhealthy behaviours are
maintained because they tend to be available on a version of revolving credit –
instead of “buy now, pay later,” it takes the form of “enjoy now, suffer later.”