The Psychological Foundations of Culture

By Mark Schaller; Christian S. Crandall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
2

Human Awareness of Mortality
and the Evolution of Culture
Sheldon Solomon
Skidmore College
Jeff Greenberg
University of Arizona
Jeff Schimel
University of Alberta
Jamie Arndt
University of Missouri–Columbia
Tom Pyszczynski
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Culture and history and religion and science … [are] different from anything else we know of in the universe. That is a fact. It is as if all life evolved to a certain point, and then in ourselves turned at a right angle and simply exploded in a different direction. (Jaynes, 1976, p. 9)

We know that virtually all of human behavior is transmitted by culture … The question is how biology and culture interact, and in particular how they interact across all societies to create the commonalities of human nature. (Wilson, 1998, p. 126)

What are the psychological foundations of culture? Authors tend to combine two perspectives when addressing this question. The first is an evolutionary perspective, which depicts Homo sapiens as animals who have evolved from earlier hominid species; cultures, as products of human thought and action, must therefore have resulted from adaptations over the course of evolution. The second is a cognitive science perspective, which

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