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Motives and Culture 1 The problem of altruism
Given the selfish design that tend to be produced by natural selection, how could altruism among nonrelatives possibly evolve,?
How selfish genes give rise to unselfish individuals? Other species (primate, vampire bats, …) engage in altruistic behavior/forms of social exchanges as well.
2 Gain in trade
The advantage of reciprocal altruism is that both parties gain.
Each parties receives more in return than it costs to deliver the benefit.
E.g.: Hunters A and B. Week 1 Hunter A got a kill and shares his food with hunter B who got nothing. For A the cost of giving is low, while the gain for B is high. Week 2: B got a Kill and A nothing …. 3 Those who engage in reciprocal altruism tend to outproduce those who act selfishly, causing psychological mechanisms for reciprocal altruism to spread in succeeding generations. (cf. group selection).
Reciprocal altruism = cooperation between two or more individuals for mutual benefit (Cosmides & Tooby)
An important adaptive problem for reciprocal altruism is ensuring that the benefit it bestows will be returned in the future.
4 The Prisoner Dilemma
Two people go to jail for a crime they both committed. They’re kept in separate cells. If none confesses, they both get free. But they’re each told that if he confesses he’ll get free with a small reward while the other get sentenced, but if they both confess they’ll be both sentenced.
5 Tit for Tat
Three features of the strategy that represented the key to the success (Axelroy 1984):
1. Never be the first to defect.
2. Retaliate only after the other has defected.
3. Be forgiving.
“First, do unto others as you wish them to do unto you, but then do unto them as they have just done to you.” (Trivers 1985)
6 The Tit for Tat strategy is an example of an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS).
Tit for Tat suggests that cooperation can evolve fairly easy in nature (a limitation: the game assume that the players are equals in their power to punish and reward).
E.g.: Food sharing in vampire bats. Bats share blood only with “closed friends”: the ones who pass time with and reciprocate … Without food sharing the bats wouldn’t survive.
7 The problem of cheating
One could pretend to be a reciprocal altruist and take benefit without responding later.
The possibility of cheating poses an everpresent threat to the evolution of cooperation. For cheaters have an evolutionary advantage over cooperators.
Hence over evolutionary times cheaters will reproduce more than cooperators until the entire population consists of noncooperators.
8 The only way reciprocal altruism can evolve is if organisms create a mechanism for detecting and avoiding cheaters.
If cooperators can avoid cheaters and interact only with likeminded cooperators, reciprocal altruism can evolve. 9 1. Five cognitive capacities in humans are required to detect cheaters/recognize cooperators (Cosmides & Tooby).
The capacity to recognize many different individuals. 2. The capacity to remember some aspects of the histories of interactions with different individuals.
3. The ability to communicate one’s value to others; i.e. ask when in need.
10 4. The capacity to model the values of others, i.e. understand what others need. 5. The capacity to represent cost and benefits, independent of the particular item exchanged. Humans have not evolved to respond to abstract logical problems.
They evolved to respond to problems structured as social exchanges when they’re presented in terms of costs and benefits (Cosmides & Tooby).
Two problems with the very same logical structure. With an abstract question, people get it wrong.
With a practical/social question, people get it right. People reason correctly when the problem is structured as a social contract.
The human mind has an evolved psychological mechanism specifically designed to detect cheaters.
12 Brain damage
With damage to the orbifrontal cortex and amygdala (two parts of the brain) a patient was able to reason correctly on some problems (e.g.: problems structured as precaution rules “If you do X, you must take precaution Y”). Yet he was unable to engage in correct social exchanges reasoning (e.g.: “if you takes benefit X, you must pay cost Y”). This suggests that there may be separate and specialized component of the human cognitive machinery.
13 Although the detection of cheating played an important role in the evolution of cooperation, others adaptation facilitating cooperation are likely to have evolved.
The latter involves choices of cooperative partners. Detection of cheaters + Detection of altruists.
There may be genuine emotions behind acts of altruism.
14 Culture shaped and challenged our basic wants
While nature favored selfishness, culture favored altruism, i.e. the primacy of the collective. To do so culture must shape people selfish wishes and impulses.
Culture is an organizer of human behavior. E.g.: money turned out to be a vital mean to satisfy our basic desires for food, shelters, etc. 15 Cultural shaping (e.g. advertising). Culture doesn’t go against innate human wants, but it works in shaping them.
Nature prepared the human being for culture by installing a high degree of plasticity, including motivational plasticity. Thus culture capitalized on the plasticity of human wanting in order to make people do what culture needs. To do so meaning is central. 16 Language Instinct
It is a powerful aid to a cultural animal, for language is a crucial requirement in the design of a cultural animal. Language use is a universal feature of all human cultures.
The language instinct as innate desire to speak and communicate may be an elaboration of several other more basic drives such as curiosity, belongingness.
17 Dunbar (Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, Harvard UP 1996) He claims that people developed language for the purpose of expanding their social circle. Humans can achieve and maintain intimacy by talking about themselves and their experiences, which is considerable faster than the way apes maintain intimacy (spending hours picking the bugs off each others).
In the sense of telling stories about oneself and each others. This was the purpose of language evolution (Dunbar). This indicates the importance of social connections.
Gossip has values that go beyond maintaining social connections: often gossip consists in telling stories about how other people actions have violated social norms, brought them troubles or advantages, etc. As such gossip may serve as a valuable function for learning.
19 Dunbar may be right in claiming that gossip is one of the driving force beyond language evolution, but biology may have impelled us of gossiping as a way of gaining useful information about the consequence of possible actions.
Control is another innate motivation that may have contributed toward language instinct. For, language helps codify and share knowledge. 20 Language
Is a culturally created motivation because language only exists with culture. Hence, the existence of culture is a prerequisite for the desire to learn a language. 21 Cultural animals are far more motivated than animals to learn and master language. Both deaf humans and chimps can learn sign languages; both have difficulties with vocal speech. Yet only humans manifests the eagerness to learn and master sign language.
Only humans engage in teaching/ developing/ sharing/ … sign language. 22 SelfEsteem
It is another culturally motivated motive. Life in a cultural society demands a great deal more of the self: each person has an identity which contributes in marking a place in the social matrix of relationships. 23 Self and selfesteem
The expansion of the self played a big role in the construction of the cultural animal.
Selfesteem is a promising vehicle by which culture can influence people’s behavior. Selfesteem differs from public esteem (evaluation of the self by others), but they are intimately connected.
24 Selfesteem motivation is widespread and powerful. Most of what people do consists in maintaining a favorable opinion of themselves and making a good impression on others. What are the advantages? High selfesteem doesn’t confer many benefits. Selfesteem my be largely useless in itself, but it serves as a valuable internal measure for belongingness which dictates that the person must keep track of interpersonal relations.
25 Emotions and selfesteem
Emotions provide constant feedback about changes in the status of important relationships. Selfesteem tracks our long term concerns, i.e. the challenges of being the kind of person with whom other want to be affiliated (attractive to the group/ potential partners/ …). 26 Measure of selfesteem consists mainly of questions about how one appraises oneself regarding likeability, attractiveness, competence, and morality.
Selfesteem plays a crucial role in how culture control behavior insofar as culture needs to induce people to do things that benefits the collective. Selfesteem is based on the underlying motives of belongingness and control. Since it is interconnected to the way people interact in their group, it may vary across cultures.
All cultures have morals. They may present a few variations in moral imperatives, but also many similarities. Some universals include: prohibition against murder, restrictions on sexuality (e.g. prohibition of incest) and a reciprocity norm.
28 Morality is a system of rules enabling people to live together. Thus the innate motivation the most closely linked to morality is, again, the need to belong.
Morality is not directly derived from the need to belong. It represents the compromise that must be made in order to satisfy that need on a longterm basis.
Morality is also linked to the need to feel good (as such, it is also related to selfesteem) and to avoid feeling guilty/ bad/ ….
It is a highly interpersonal emotion. It is rooted in the relationships people have and its emotional base include empathy. The most common cause of guilt is neglecting one’s friends, family, or lovers. Guilt is an emotion that one feel when one hurts, neglects, or disappoints people about whom one cares.
30 Guilt is a vital part of the system that enables people to live together. It operates to strengthen and sustain good interpersonal relationships for:
1. it reduces interpersonal transgressions.
2. it drives people to repair damages caused by things they done or failed to do. 31 Guilt is an important cause of socially desirable, unselfish behavior. A widespread reduction in guiltfeelings would be disastrous for social harmony (e.g. psychopath are guiltfree …). 32 Morality and Culture
Individual selfinterests often clashes with group harmony. Guilt is a refrain of the selfishness.
Nature makes individual selfish, while culture must constraint people to sacrifice their shortterm interest for the benefit of the harmony of the group. 33 Morality is a force that restrains selfinterests in favor of the group.
Morality is an important tool by which culture induces individuals to override their natural self
interests and impulses. The view of morality as mainly a set of restraints on selfinterest explains its negative character. 34 Moral systems have far more rules about what not to do than what to do E.g.: the Ten Commandments specify what “you should not” do: killing, lying, stealing, committing adultery, …. Moral behavior requires the capacity for selfcontrol, i.e. the restrain of selfish impulses. 35 Success and Fame
Success is a cultural construction: it is contingent of performing one’s role within the society effectively. Culture can encourage people to perform their role effectively.
People imagine that achieving success brings happiness. In nowadays industrialized society success is mainly understood as (i) money and (ii) social recognition.
36 Money and social recognition corresponds to the obvious motives for control (money) and belongingness (the pursuit of fame).
The pursuit of fame is also encouraged by an idealized vision/version of the self. Fame bestow one’s selfesteem.
Money is a more widespread motive than fame for: (i) it is more directly useful; (ii) many careers offer little or no opportunity to achieve fame;
(iii) money can be measured objectively better than fame.
37 Gender difference
Generally men are more oriented toward pursuing money and fame than women. E.g. in selecting jobs women tend to emphasize intrinsic satisfaction and social relations while men emphasize on getting higher salaries.
The pursuit of success by men may be related to the sex drive: money and fame make them more attractive to women.
38 Although the pursuit of material resources may have an evolutionary basis, money is itself a cultural creation.
The failure of communism is partly explained by its denial of the value of money and of its motivational factor (in communist factories people were less productive than in noncommunist ones).
Common dilemma: when gazing lands are commonly owned they are usually overexploited. When single individuals own a gazing land they easily manage the renewable resources, …
39 The Meaning of life
1. Nearly all meanings of life include purposes, in the sense that past and future activities derive meaning from possible future circumstances.
E.g.: People lacking goals tend to be disoriented and discontent.
2. People require a sense of efficacy. This relates to the desire for control viewed by the subjective perception.
40 3. Some basis for value and justification is needed. All culture have concept of right and wrong. The concept of good and bad are among the first a child learns. Need for value has two facets: (i) reliable basis for making judgments about what is good/bad and (ii) capability to see oneself as basically a good person.
41 4. People are driven to see themselves as self
worth. This generally entails believing oneself to be superior to others. It’s part of a broader issue of selfesteem motivation. 42 Religion
A long standing powerful and popular source of meaning in life.
Part of the appeal in religion is rooted in control. Religious groups are tempted to offer more direct opportunities for control over life (e.g. rituals to influence goals, etc.).
It satisfy the urge for control at least toward secondary control.
43 Motivation and the Duplex Mind
The biggest difference between humans and animals is the duplex mind, in particular the conscious system.
Automatic responses are found in other species, while consciousness is speciesspecific. It provides a powerful subjective experience. Human motivation becomes centered around creating or avoiding various conscious states (e.g. love, food and drink as pleasant activities/sensations, entertainment, …).
44 The possibility of gaining meaning and understanding may be the most appealing part of religion. The modern declined of religion in industrialized societies may be explained by the increase of people’s quality of life and thus control over their surrounding. Inversely, a lack of control may explain the increase in religious practices. Belongingness also plays a role in the appeal to religion (people joining churches is often based on social groups rather than doctrines). 45 Wanting
Hydraulic model: The wanting increase until it is satisfied, then it ceases, and so on and so forth.
It’s a wrong model. Often the more one gets the more one wants. The more one misses the less one wants (e.g. food
anorexia, sexabstinence, …).
46 Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Desires
Intrinsic motivation = wanting something for its own sake.
Extrinsic motivation = wanting it as a mean for some other end.
People, unlike animals, can learn to desire something not for its own sake but for what it will bring. This reflects the human capacity for forming complex chains of associations for distant goals.
47 Extrinsic motivation typically relies on meaning.
Culture relies heavily on extrinsic motivation. A cultural being must be capable of being motivated extrinsically. Our complex society would not function well if people were merely doing something that bring immediate intrinsic pleasure. 48 Extrinsic motivation relies on other adaptations: intelligence and meaning. Extrinsic motivations constitutes an important aspect of the culturalization of motivations. The intrinsic motivators involve desiring to do a task for the shear pleasure of satisfaction of the activity. Extrinsic motivators involve receiving rewards as a result of performing the activity. 49 Society cannot easily alter people’s intrinsic motivations, but it can alter the extrinsic ones (e.g. prison, money, prestige, fame, …)
When rewards signify that one is good at doing something, they seem to foster satisfaction and sustain intrinsic motivation to keep doing it e.g.: money award vs. verbal appraisal. People verbally appraised tend to keep doing the action once the appraisal ends, while people paid tend to stop doing it when the appraisal ends.
50 Social Motives
May be as basic and powerful as physiological needs. E.g.: in Nazi concentration camps people helped each others and shared food despite of being chronically undernourished. No hierarchy of needs. Longitudinal studies attempting to show that people satisfy one need and ten move on to satisfy another have not been successful.
51 There may be a hierarchy of needs at the individual level. A person motivation is given priority over another. Different people privilege different needs.
The hierarchy of needs cannot be generalized. 52 ...
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This document was uploaded on 10/26/2011 for the course PHIL 3501 at Carleton CA.
- Fall '07