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Psychology (9,573)
PSYC14H3 (219)
Sisi Tran (101)
Chapter 3

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Sisi Tran

Chapter 3 – Cultural Evolution - manner differ across cultures cuz ppl socialized to diff sets of norms and customs (not result of universal problems) - cultural foundation clear when consider how manners change over time  Western Europe (& other modernizing cultures) = transformed as manners of aristocracy govern behaviour of lower class  Ppl’s views of what is healthy also changed = manners changed over time - transformation of manners = cultures change WHERE DOES CULTURAL VARIATION COME FROM? Ecological and Geographical Variation - consider the ecologies w/in which ppl live - ways that physical environments affect culture…  direct effects ex: type of foods available = affect kinds of foraging behaviours ppl engage in  indirect effects diff foraging behaviours can also affect how societies structured and values that they adopt o ex: sex roles –environment is harsh and requires courage and physical prowess to secure living = value strength and toughness of masculinity o in contrast, environment that’s more benign and food plentiful and easily acquired = sex roles more androgynous SMALL DIFFERENCES CAN HAVE LARGE EFFECTS - sometimes small variations in ecologies = dramatically diff cultures - group of 168 Spanish soldiers beat 7000 of emperor’s soldiers  Proximal causes: have direct and immediate relation Spanish had better tools and germs  Distal causes: those initial differences that lead to effects over long periods, and often through indirect relations how did they have these better tools o Existed unique collection of plant and animal = suitable for domestication –development of Western agriculture; domesticated species spread quickly East and West (many populated areas shared similar latitude (similar climate)) –figure 3.2 o Living in close proximity to their animals = many diseases = developed resistance (Americas didn’t have this resistance) o In sum: position of Eurasia allowed ppl to develop complex societies and resistance to deadly germs earlier than other parts TRANSMITTED VERSUS EVOKED CULTURE - above argument suggests geographical differences = diff cultural responses - cultural norms can arise from responses to features of ecology, or learning from other individuals –not always clearly separable - evoked culture: notion that all ppl, regardless of where they’re from, have certain biologically encoded behavioural repertoires that are potentially accessible to them, engaged when appropriate situational condition is present  universal domain-specific psychological responses activated in response to specific conditions  interested in physical attractiveness in selecting mate (evolutionary perspective: less likely infected by parasites = on average healthier) o prevalence of parasites in a culture = how much ppl emphasized physical attractiveness in potential mates o results show that we have POTENTIAL to value physical attractiveness, but motivation for this is strongly activated when we’re in environment where health of our mates is less certain - transmitted culture: ppl come to learn about particular cultural practices through social learning or modeling others who live near them  typically begins in particular geographical area, can travel w/ ppl when they move to new environments - distinction between evoked and transmitted culture not clear-cut  particular behavioural script (ex: preference for attractive mate) activated by specific situational variable (ex: prevalence of parasite); but if script becomes norm = learned by others = transmitted to future generations = continue to be transmitted even where initial situational variable is absent - cultural variations not just due to variation in ecologies figure 3.3 - transmitted culture tends to be more important than evoked figure 3.4, p.71: essential ideas only available through cultural transmission - limits of ecological variation (p.70): majority of attitudes = tribal affiliation better predictor than primary means of subsistence HOW DO IDEAS CATCH ON? - rumours fueled by lack of info = environment which facts become extremely valuable, spread is fanned by strong emotional feelings - study of rumours is informative = indicate what kinds of ideas come to be spread and become common w/in a culture - cultural evolution requires that certain ideas passed onto others, and those ideas selectively retained Parallels Between Biological and Cultural Evolution - biological evolution operates through two related mechanisms 1. natural selection: evolutionary process that occurs when following here conditions are present: a. there is individual variability among members of species on certain traits b. those traits associated w/ diff survival rates c. those traits have hereditary basis  it’s balance of all selective pressures that species face in given environment = affects which individual members survive to pass their genes to next generation 2. sexual selection: not much focus on survival of individuals but on their reproductive success –those whoc an best attract healthiest mate = most likely have surviving offspring - “selection” for cultural evolution not tied to genes –two kinds of selective mechanisms for biological evolution = parallels in cultural evolution  some ideas more likely persist across time than others = long survival rates  some ideas more likely attract adherents = reproduce more - in contrast to biological evolution, cultural occur at rapid speeds, can be passed to anyone, transmitted to many ppl in an instant, and can elaborate/change/extend ideas quickly as they learn them IDEAS AS REPLICATORS - genes are replicators in biological evolution, need to possess few characteristics to be successful 1. need to have certain degree of longevity 2. require copying to be of extremely high fidelity (i.e., copying to not produce many errors; reliable) 3. fecundity: produce many copies of themselves –determined by # of offspring an individual organism has - Dawkins proposed cultural equivalent of genes are memes: smallest units of cultural info that can be faithfully transmitted (ex: tunes, catchphrases, scientific theories, table manners, iPods)  successful = sufficient longevity  highly fecund (esp. popular and went viral = transmitted many times over)  high copying fidelity - weakness about idea that memes are cultural equivalents of genes  copying errors/mutations source of genetic variability in GENES = evolve over time; cultural evolution grows from innovations not typically random copying errors, usually consciously planned  cultural transmission doesn’t appear to be of very high fidelity (ex: game “telephone”)  analogy of memes replicating units like genes further weakened if can’t specify precisely what aspects of messages constitute memes - memes don’t have to be adaptive (ex: Fore of New Guinea engage in ritualized cannibalism, often leads to death, idea of this still spread even if as many as 50% lose their lives) EPIDEMIOLOGY OF IDEAS - epidemiology of ideas: considers distribution of ideas in particular population and explores features of ideas that facilitate or inhibit likelihood that an idea will be passed on  epidemiology: branch of medicine that’s concerned w/ distribution of diseases among populations - argue that no direct replication of ideas (unlike memes) - proposes following steps 1. individual (inventor) has mental representation of an idea in her mind 2. another individual (imitator) learns about this idea from first person = creates mental representation of idea in own head - gist of idea: idea communicated to imitator and imitator re-creates idea anew  diff from inventory because have own mental biases, but ppl share many common features in way we think (similar biases) = imitating tends to be quite accurate - ideas spread, but always created anew, much individual variation (not truly replicated) FACTORS THAT CAUSE IDEAS TO SPREAD COMMUNICABLE IDEAS SPREAD - need to have some way of moving from one person to another - most direct way is through language –some ideas more likely than others (some difficult to summarize succinctly, others too socially undesirable) - stereotypes seen to reflect shared ideas that ppl have in particular cultural contexts about specific cultural groups  content influenced by ideas ppl most likely to communicate  experiment: shared stereotypes tend to be formed based on kind of traits ppl most likely communicate, and for kinds of groups that ppl most likely talking about - Dynamic social impact theory: individuals come to influence each other and do so primarily in terms of how often individuals interact  norms develop among those who communicate w/ each other regularly  figure 3.6, p.81: regional preferences = how own preferences and behaviours shaped by norms of those who live around us EMOTIONAL IDEAS SPREAD - such stories (ex: deaths of children taking candy from strangers on Halloween = hoaxes) just one of many diff kinds of urban or contemporary legends: fictional stories that are told in modern societies as though they are true - reasons these legends spread?  have informational value (highly adaptive to communicate potentially useful info to each other)  Heath et al. (2001)rumors and legends more likely spread when evoke shared emotional reaction (allows to connect w/ others, facilitate sense of shared connection) MINIMALLY COU
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