CH. 2: Culture and Human Nature
Is Culture Unique to Humans
- Culture is symbolic coding, it has signals, icons, and words that refer to something else that
most members of that culture recognize. However this definition can be circular and only
attributing it to humans
- Broader definition: humans unique in being able to learn info from other members of their
species through social transmission.
- Compared to humans, everyone else is slow in learning culture.
- Humans unique among other species in whom they choose to imitate, they’re concerned
with detecting prestige so they seek who have skills and are respected by others, and then
try to imitate what these individuals are doing.
- Humans’ unusually sophisticated cultural learning skills rest on 2 keys capacities: ability to
consider the perspective of others and ability to communicate with language.
Theory of Mind: ppl understand tht others have minds tht are different from their own,
and thus that other ppl have perspectives and intentions that are different from their own.
Imitative learning: learner internalizes something of the model’s goals and behavioural
Emulative learning: the learning is focused on the envrmntl events tht are involved-how
the use of one object could potentially effect changes in the state of environment.
- They key difference between emulative learning and imitative learning is that emulative
doesn’t require imitating a model’s behavioural strategies, they only focus on events that
happen around the model rather than what the model intends to accomplish. EL try to
figure things out for themselves once they get an idea by observing others
- Chimps good at emulative learning (effective and intelligent) but it doesn’t allow for cultural
info to accumulate.
- Language facilitates cultural learning: humans have more sophisticated ways of
communicating their ideas than any other primate species
- Humans differ from their nearest primate relatives both in terms of their abilities to have a
rich theory of mind and to have an extensive language. These two adaptations which likely
to have in tandem, allow humans