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Human Nature and Culture: What is the Human Mind Designed For

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Different cultures use different clothing styles, materials, and fashions... Humans developed culture as a new, better form of social life ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Human Nature and Culture: What is the Human Mind Designed For


1
Human Nature and CultureWhat is the Human Mind
Designed For?
  • Roy F. Baumeister

2
Evolutionary Psychology
  • Similarities (between humans and animals)

Cultural Psychology
Differences (among cultures)
3
Evolutionary Psychology
  • DIFFERENCES between humans and animals

Cultural Psychology
SIMILARITIES among cultures
4
Focusing only on cultural differences
underestimates the power and importance of
culture.
5
Different cultures speak different languages
but all cultures have language (and languages
have much in common)
6
Different cultures cook different foods, in
different styles
but all cultures cook
7
Different cultures use different clothing styles,
materials, and fashions
but all cultures use clothing
8
Different cultures have different units of money
but nearly all cultures use money (and other
forms of exchange)
9
So
  • Lets think (also) about culture per se, and not
    just cultural difference, in order to understand
    human nature.

10
What is the Human Psyche Distinctively Designed
to Do?
  • Complex social systems
  • CULTURE

11
Brains Costs and Benefits
  • Very costly organ, consumes many calories
  • Human brain is 2 of body mass, consumes 20 of
    calories
  • Must therefore pay for itself
  • What benefits?
  • Some kinds of food?
  • Keeping track of territory?
  • Outsmarting predators?

12
The Social Brain
  • Comparing different species of animals, Dunbar
    found that bigger brains went with bigger (and
    more complex) social networks
  • The brain is for understanding each other
  • The evolved purpose of the relatively giant human
    brain is for advanced social interaction
  • Inner processes serve interpersonal functions

13
Culture is a better way of being social.
14
The Cultural Brain
  • Culture increases power of human brain
  • Brain may have evolved to do culture
  • Analogy to computers and internet

15
What is culture?
  • Learned behavior
  • Shared information
  • Transmission to the next generation
  • Beliefs
  • Practices (how to)
  • Guides for behaviors (norms, rules)

16
What is culture?
  • An information-based system to allow people to
    live together in organized fashion and satisfy
    biological, social needs

17
Can culture shape biology?
18
Why Culture?
  • Humans developed culture as a new, better form of
    social life
  • So culture can do things that simpler social
    systems cannot
  • These things improve survival, reproduction
  • Culture as biological strategy
  • Culture per se, not cultural differences
  • The human mind evolved to take advantage of these

19
Advantages of Culture1. Language
  • Need a group (culture) for language
  • Improves communication
  • Improves sharing, storage of information
  • Improves thinking (manipulating information,
    rationality, morality)
  • Can think beyond the here and now
  • All other animals just respond to their immediate
    stimulus environment

20
Advantages of Culture2. Accumulation of Knowledge
  • Knowledge resides in the group
  • Passed on to new generations
  • Allows for PROGRESS

21
Advantages of Culture3. Division of Labor
  • Different people perform different tasks
  • Allows for specialization, expertise
  • Everything gets done better, more efficiently

22
Advantages of Culture4. Network of exchange
  • Marketplace, trade
  • Enables people to interact with strangers in ways
    that benefit both
  • Trade increases wealth
  • Life gets better overall

23
Advantages of CultureBottom Line
  • The whole is more than the sum of its parts
  • That difference (increase) improves survival,
    reproduction for members

24
Explaining the Psyche
  • Nature selected us for culture
  • Culture (though not cultural difference) is in
    our genes

25
Adaptations for Culture
  • Inner processes serve interpersonal functions!
  • The main features of human psychology (cognition,
    motivation, emotion) are there to enable people
    to sustain this new improved kind of social
    behavior culture

26
Adaptations for Culture
  • One of us
  • Theory of mind
  • Joint attention tasks
  • Shared assumptions for language, trade, etc.
  • Empathy (promotes prosocial behavior)
  • Need to belong
  • Participation in community

27
Adaptations for Culture
  • Intelligent thought
  • More better information processing
  • Not all-purpose reasoning machine
  • Understands hidden causes
  • Detects cheaters, free riders
  • Solves problems without trial error

28
Adaptations for Culture
  • Self
  • Between animal and social group
  • Seeks acceptance by group
  • Roles (identity, group tasks)
  • Finding unique niche
  • Public self-consciousness
  • Connects biological organism to social group and
    cultural system

29
Adaptations for Culture
  • Consciousness
  • Purpose brains inner cross-talk
  • For processing social information
  • Simulating nonpresent realities
  • Decision making
  • Understanding others
  • Simulating past, future events

30
Adaptations for Culture
  • Self-Control / Self-Regulation
  • Overrides incipient responses
  • Can bring self, states, behaviors into line with
    groups rules, standards
  • Can follow abstract rules made by far-off others

31
Adaptations for Culture
  • Free will
  • Self-control
  • Override response to follow rules
  • Rational, smart choices
  • Enlightened self-interest amid culture
  • Planned action
  • Initiative
  • Active instead of passive responder

32
Nature Against Culture?The Case of Self-Interest
  • Nature made us selfish
  • The selfish gene
  • Culture demands sacrifices from individuals
  • Taxes
  • War
  • Waiting your turn
  • Respecting property of others
  • Restrain sexual, aggressive impulses

33
Too Positive a View?
  • Human culture has produced
  • War
  • Pollution
  • Genocide
  • Social Inequality, Injustice
  • Disco
  • Economic Depressions
  • Global Warming

34
But still
  • Culture has advanced far beyond what natural
    selection created
  • Survival Human life expectancy has nearly
    tripled
  • Reproduction From one woman to 8 billion humans
    in 200,000 years

35
ConclusionSocialor cultural animal?
  • Humans are not the only, or even the most social
    of animals
  • Humans are the most cultural of animals and are
    the only ones who rely utterly on culture in most
    aspects of life

36
The End
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