The Psychological Foundations of Culture

Advances in recent decades in a number of different disciplines, including evolutionary biology, cognitive science, behavioral ecology, psychology, hunter-gatherer studies, social anthropology, biological  anthropology, primatology, and neurobiology have made clear for the first time the nature of the phenomena studied by social scientists and the connections of those phenomena to the principles and findings in the rest of science. This allows a new model to be constructed-the Integrated Causal Model-to replace the Standard Social Science Model. Briefly, the ICM connects the social sciences to the rest of science by recognizing that:
a. the human mind consists of a set of evolved information-processing mechanisms instantiated in the human nervous system;
b. these mechanisms, and the developmental programs that produce them, are adaptations, produced by natural selection over evolutionary time in ancestral environments;
c. many of these mechanisms are functionally specialized to produce behavior that solves particular adaptive problems, such as mate selection, language acquisition, family relations, and cooperation;
d. to be functionally specialized, many of these mechanisms must be richly structured in a content-specific way;
e. content-specific information-processing mechanisms generate some of the particular content of human culture, including certain behaviors, artifacts, and linguistically transmitted representations;
f. the cultural content generated by these and other mechanisms is then present to be adopted or modified by psychological mechanisms situated in other members of the population;
g. this sets up epidemiological and historical population-level processes; and
h. these processes are located in particular ecological, economic, demographic, and intergroup social contexts or environments.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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