socio psy chapter two.docx - Nature and Social Behavior Explaining the Psyche One approach to understanding how people think feel and act is to try to

socio psy chapter two.docx - Nature and Social Behavior...

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Nature and Social Behavior Explaining the Psyche One approach to understanding how people think, feel, and act is to try to understand what the human psyche is designed for. (The psyche is a broader term for mind, encompassing emotions, desires, perceptions, and indeed all psychological processes.) To understand something, you have to know what it was designed to do. Imagine someone who has grown up on a deserted island and has never met another human being or seen any human-made items. Then one day a box washes ashore containing an electric can opener. How would the person figure out what the can opener does? Having grown up on a deserted island, the person knows nothing about cans or electricity. This hypothetical person might take it apart, analyze it, observe its parts, and see what some of their properties are, but it would be almost impossible for this person to understand it properly. Understanding the human psyche is somewhat like that. To understand and explain how it works, it is useful to know what the psyche/human mind is designed for. Hence, we turn to nature and culture because those are what made the psyche the way it is. If the psyche was designed to do something in particular, then nature and culture designed it for that purpose. Accordingly, if we can learn what the purpose is, then we can understand people much better. Why are people the way they are? Why is the human mind set up as it is? Why do people think, want, feel, and act in certain ways? Nature and culture. The nature explanations say that people are born a certain way; their genes, hormones, brain structure, and other processes dictate how they will choose and act. In contrast, the cultural explanations focus on what people learn from their parents, from society, and from their own experiences. Such debates have raged over many other forms of social interaction and behavior. Are people born with a natural tendency to be aggressive, or is aggression something they pick up from watching violent films, playing with toy guns, and copying other people’s actions? Are some people born to be homosexuals, or can people choose and change their sexual orientation? Is mental illness the result of how your parents treated you, or is it something in your genes? What about whether someone likes to drink alcohol or gamble? What about heroism, especially when people risk their own lives to protect or save others? How many of the differences between men and women reflect their innate, genetic tendencies, and how many are the product of cultural stereotypes? Many social scientists have grown tired of nature–nurture debates and wish to put an end to them, though others continue to pursue them vigorously. In recent years, some researchers have stressed that both nature and culture have real influences. The most common resolution tends to favor nature as more important, however, because nature is indispensable. As Frans de Waal argued, nature versus culture isn’t a fair fight because without nature you have nothing. He
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