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Unformatted text preview: bility to read other people’s motivations and intentions enables not only our understanding of stories but, more crucially, the comprehension of real-life social situations — an undeniable evolutionary advantage for both individuals and groups alike. —J.H. we distinguish between fantasy and reality,” Mar says. As psychologists probe our love of stories for clues about our evolutionary history, other researchers have begun examining the themes and character types that appear consistently in narratives from all cultures. Their work is revealing universal similarities that may reﬂect a shared, evolved human psyche. Boy Meets Girl …
A 2006 study by Jonathan Gottschall, an English professor at Washington & Jefferson College, found relevant depictions of romantic love in folktales scattered across space and time. The idea of romantic love has not been traditionally considered to be a cultural universal because of the many societies in which marriage is mainly an economic or utilitarian consideration. But Gottschall’s study suggests that rather than being a construct of certain societies, romantic love must have roots in our common ancestry. In other words, romance — not just sex— has a biological basis in the brain. “You do ﬁnd these commonalities,” Gottschall says. He is one of several scholars, known informally as literary Darwinists, who assert that story themes do not simply spring from each speciﬁc culture. Instead the literary Darwinists propose that stories from around the world have universal themes reﬂecting our common underlying biology. Another of Gottschall’s studies published earlier this year reveals a persistent mind-set regarding gender roles. His team did a content analysis of 90 folktale collections, each consisting of 50 to 100 stories, from societies running the gamut from industrial nations to hunter-gatherer tribes. They found overwhelmingly similar gender depictions emphasizing strong male protagonists and female beauty. To counterbalance the possibility that male storytellers were biasing gender idealizations, the team also sampled cultures that were mor...
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This note was uploaded on 10/22/2010 for the course WPC 301 taught by Professor Burns during the Fall '08 term at ASU.
- Fall '08
- The Iliad