Ψ Genes, Culture, & Gender
Ψ How are we influenced by human nature & cultural diversity?
Ψ Natural selection is the process by which favorable traits that are heritable become more common in successive generations of a population, & unfavorable traits that are heritable become less common. Natural selection is one of the cornerstones of modern biology. The term was introduced by Charles Darwin in his groundbreaking 1859 book The Origin of Species.
Ψ Evolutionary Psychology studies how natural selection predisposes not just physical traits but psychological traits & social behaviors that enhance the preservation & spread of one's genes.
Ψ The evolutionary perspective highlights our universal human nature. Evolutionary
psychologists highlight the universal characteristics that have evolved through natural selection.
Culture & Behavior
Ψ Our most important similarity, the hallmark of our species: the ability to learn & adapt.
Ψ We are on a loose genetic leash, about half of what we do is learned
(adapted). "Ironically, therefore, our shared human biology enables our cultural diversity." (David G. Myers)
Ψ Cultural norms are behavior patterns that are typical of specific groups. All cultures have accepted ideal about appropriate behavior. Some norms are healthy & some are not.
Ψ Norm: Personal space is the region surrounding each person, or that area which a person considers his domain or territory. What distance is appropriate for a particular social situation depends on cultural norms.
Ψ Some norms are universal. Best Known is the taboo against incest.
Ψ Forms of address communicate not only social distance but also social status (status hierarchies).
The majority of the following information is a temporary lift from http://www.suecloninger.com/Course%20notes/coursenotes_social_ch05.html
Norms: Expected Behavior
rules for accepted and expected behavior; prescribe "proper" behavior
ex: "When in Rome, do as the Romans."
According to Myers, "Norms grease the social machinery."
personal space (norm with cultural variation); greater for adults, men, Northern Europeans, North Americans
norms for war (surrender; humane treatment of prisoners)
universal incest taboo
norms for friendship (privacy; eye contact; keeping secrets
"Big 5" universal dimensions of personality: stable, outgoing, open, agreeable, conscientious
Ψ There are 5 universal social beliefs: cynicism, social complexity, reward for application, Religiosity (Previously named as Spirituality), & fate control that people in different societies adhere to in varying degrees.
Norms of address are based on status
acculturation and repatriation
role changes (e.g., Patricia Hearst)
High- and Low-Status Roles
experimental studies show that high status has advantages
discuss: Why is a true experiment important for determining cause-effect relationships in this case?
can improve communication
Ψ How are gender similarities & differences explained?
the characteristics people associate with male and female
nurturance (feminine gender role)
dominance (masculine gender role)
[art images presented in lecture]
Some people think it is a mistake to focus on differences.
Independence versus Connectedness
empathy ("being able to feel what another feels")
women superior at decoding others' emotional messages and at expressing their own emotions nonverbally
Men are more dominant and verbally directive.
Should women try to act more like men? (Nancy Henley)
"behavior intended to hurt"
greater among men
Men are more accepting of casual sex & more likely to initiate sex.
Ψ Evolution & gender: Doing what comes naturally?
Gender and Mating Preferences
relative cost of sperm vs. eggs (parental investment)
jealousy (men are more jealous about sex, women about emotional attachment)
preference for younger partner (men)
Gender and Hormones
testosterone influences aggression
...but is androgyny in old age hormonal, or cultural?
Reflections on Evolutionary Psychology
Does the theory predict, or only explain?
Does what was adaptive in the past, still have adaptive value?
Does the theory ignore the role of culture?
How biased our our assumptions, anyway? If you had to give an evolutionary reason to explain why women are stronger than men, could you?
Ψ Culture & gender: Doing as the culture says?
gender roles: "behavioral expectations for males & females"
We sometimes behave differently to live up to these expectations, as in Zanna & Pack's study of women describing themselves to a man with traditionally feminine or less restrictive gender roles.
Gender Roles Vary With Culture
more similarity in nomadic, food-gathering societies
more differences in agricultural societies
Gender Roles Vary Over Time
attitudes toward women working outside family, and number of women who do so
Judith Harris: The Nurture Assumption
evidence of differences among children in the same household
Ψ What can we conclude about genes, culture, and gender?
Biology and Culture
coevolution of biology and culture
interaction of biology and culture
The Power of the Situation and the Person
Social situations interact with individuals to influence behavior:
A given situation affects different people differently.
People choose their situations.
People create their situations.
"As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit.”
- Seneca quotes (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)