OCT2631N-1 - What is culture The brain has been shaped by...

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What is culture? The brain has been shaped by natural selection to solve frequently occurring problems Many behavioral patterns are based on decisions by many individuals Behavior should be adaptive and responsive to local constraints. Different ecologies should lead to different behavioral complexes. Similar ecologies will often lead to similar behaviors. (Eg. In ecologies where men can provide few resources to women and their children, and women can be economically independent, women will often choose mates based on good genes alone.) The indicators of good genes, health, attractiveness, etc, will be concentrated in a few males who will have many mates. The mating system will be highly polygynous But often social constraints are more important than environmental constraints . If society members come up with a “rule ” that men are only allowed one female partner, and if that rule is backed up by punishments , the sum total of all costs and benefits may favor monogamy, even though the environmental constraints alone might have favored polygyny. Thus, what society you belong to, and the history of which behavioral patterns are enforced by social sanction may become a strong determinant of overall behavior . This observation is what anthropologists often refer to as the effect of “culture” on human behavior. This leads to the observation that historical connections between societies (being derived from a common ancestor society) may be a stronger predictor of common behavioral patterns than is local ecology . (for example societies derived from Islamic cultures are much more likely to be polygynous than those derived from Christian cultures). EXAMPLE: Russia says no to polygamy A decree by the leader of a small Muslim region in Russia allowing men to have up to four wives has been dismissed as unconstitutional by the justice minister . The regional leader of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, signed the decree this week, based on a traditional Islamic practice permitting men to have four wives. Likewise if patterns are copied or borrowed from neighboring groups ( cultural diffusion ), then geographical region of the world may be a stronger predictor of a behavioral pattern than is local ecology. (eg. Polygyny is much more common in Africa than it is in Europe). In order to test ecological models of behavioral variation, ethnolinguistic phylogeny and geographical region are often “controlled” statistically. This is because the patterns among related societies are not considered to be statistically independent . Why not? I. Culture Some things people do seem based on individual learning and response to rewards or punishments . Other behaviors stem from social learning and are traits that are common to certain groups of people but not others.
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