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AU / Psychology / PSYC 3580 / How is evolutionary psychology helpful to us?

How is evolutionary psychology helpful to us?

How is evolutionary psychology helpful to us?


School: Auburn University
Department: Psychology
Course: Social Psychology
Professor: Gitter
Term: Fall 2016
Tags: social psychology and Psychology
Cost: 25
Name: Social Psychology Week 2
Description: Social Psych with Dr. Gitter Week 2 notes
Uploaded: 01/30/2016
5 Pages 44 Views 2 Unlocks

1/26 Social Psych Week 2 Notes

How is evolutionary psychology helpful to us?

∙ Evolution isn’t just about physical characteristic, it can also count for physiological characteristics

Evolutionary Psychology

∙ Why do we have phobias of some things and not others?

∙ Based on the Era/Environment of Evolutionary Adaptiveness (EEA), what should we fear? o They must provide some kind of evolutionary advantage for humans long ago o Snakes, spiders, converging lines (can be conditioned to fear because they look like  snakes and spiders)

o Social rejection – humans more than other animals fear this; our ancestors needed  other people to survive We also discuss several other topics like What are the arguments in the nurture vs nature debate?

∙ Error management theory: the importance of avoiding crucial mistakes (capability to survive and  reproduce)

What makes one's culture independent?

o Based on Signal Detection Theory – sensing things

o Makes us better at being prepared for mistakes or surprises

o People could be overly fearful and react when danger is not present, but that’s good if  danger is present

o You could never be fearful , but you won’t react even if there is danger

∙ There are several methods that can test Evolutionary Psych

o Make and test predictions on Evolutionary principles

o Twin studies – test for concordance, heritability; comparing monozygotic and dizygotic  twins and whether twins were raised together or apart

o Cross cultural comparisons  

∙ Evolutionary psychology is useful because it helps us to understand the once benefits of what  are now unreasonable impulses to us

Who are the subjects in the dunbar experiment?

We also discuss several other topics like What are the symptoms of a disorder under mdd?


∙ Write down 10 statements with “I am…” (save for later)

∙ Culture - enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people o Transmitted from one generation to the next

∙ The role of culture – the self is a social entity; culture plays a large role in shaping the self ∙ Individualistic vs. collectivistic (or independent vs. dependent)

o Individualistic – the individual is most important

o Collectivistic – cares and concerns about others and the overall group

∙ Types of statements (look at 10 statements above)

o Physical – physical qualities (I am blue eyed) – individualistic We also discuss several other topics like When chimps play fight how do they know it's playful and not aggressive?

o Social – roles, relations or memberships (I am a sister)–collectivistic

o Attributive – psychological or physical states (I am funny)– individualistic

o Global – vague or comprehensive (I am a human)- individualistic

∙ Independent cultures emphasize individualism

o Personal traits, self-contained identity  

∙ Interdependent cultures emphasize collectivism

o Do you relate yourself to others and/or rely on them?

∙ Independent/individualistic

o Self is stable

o Goal – be unique

o Promote your own goals Don't forget about the age old question of What are the four basic principles of hinduism?

o “the squeaky wheel get the grease” – stand out to succeed

∙ Interdependent/collectivistic  

o Self is flexible

o Goal – to belong

o Promote group goals

o “the nail that stands out gets pounded down” – standing out is not favorable ∙ Men tend to be more individualistic; women more collectivistic We also discuss several other topics like What are the uses of microbes?
We also discuss several other topics like What was the outcome of mating between gaia and uranus?


∙ The rules for culture; expected and accepted  

o Prescribed proper behavior

o Describe what others do

∙ Explicit – laws, written or spoke rules

∙ Implicit – unspoken rules for society, like propriety

∙ Ex: Speed limit is 35 mph (explicit); driving 5-7 mph over is fine and expected (implicit) ∙ It’s important to pick up on cultural practices to fit into that specific culture; adaptiveness o Ex: bubbler vs. water fountain, soda vs. coke vs. pop

∙ There can also be many differences in food

o South – bbq, cole slaw, cobbler

o Wisconsin – brats, sauerkraut, strudel (because of strong German heritage in area) ∙ Some primates show learned culture

∙ Proxemics – the study of physical space

o We all like a “buffer zone” between ourselves and others

o Near equator prefer less space than away from equator

o Men prefer more space than women

o Individualists prefer more space; collectivists prefer less

Nature vs. Nurture

∙ False dichotomy! – often phrased as “or”, but they work together

∙ Interaction and perspective – essential to examine genetic influence and environment ∙ Interaction – the effect of 1 factor depends on another

o Genes interact with the environment, but environment shapes gene expression

o If a person was predisposed for major depressive disorder due to serotonin levels but  they DON’T live in stressful environment, then the gene will not present itself



∙ Nature prepared us for culture

∙ Dunbar study: Analyzed brain size in animals compared to their body weight  ∙ Larger brains corresponded to more social animals

o Degree to which animal relied on others for survival

∙ Dunbar concluded: Our larger brains are designed to help us relate to each other o Evolution prepared us to deal with a complex social environment

Nature & Nurture

∙ Nature says GO; culture says STOP

∙ We often have impulses influenced by innate processes

∙ We have to stifle some of these impulses in the interest of culture

o Sexual norms – aggression favorable for nature, but not for modern culture o Passing on own desires for interest of others

∙ Culture changes very fast compared to nature

o This isn’t always a good thing – some biological drives aren’t well suited to the current  environment

o Ex: Preference for sweet and fatty foods – this was good long ago when sugar and fat  were need to survive, but now food is mostly abundant (for us) so we don’t need the  excess sweet and fatty foods

∙ The self – aids in monitoring and correcting one’s behavior

Constructing the Self

∙ Social psychology is the study of the self and others

∙ Self – important tool used by humans to satisfy needs

o Very abstract concept

o Understanding of who we are – describe ourselves, knowing your abilities, strengths,  weaknesses

o Also considers what others think of you

o How do our skills, personality, etc. help us fill our basic needs?

∙ Self is not just distinct to humans, it’s just the most complex in humans than other animals o You must be able to understand yourself and others in your species

∙ Mirror test – done with babies (1+ yrs.), put dirt on their head and place them in front of a  mirror and see if they try to wipe it off

o The same test can be done with monkeys, chimps, and other primates

o Some birds like crows can pass the mirror test, cats for example do not

∙ The 3 major components of the self

1) Reflexive Consciousness – self-knowledge or self-concept

a. “I am ?”

b. Retains information about who YOU THINK you are

c. Tested through language so you can’t really test it with animals

d. private self-awareness – attending to information about yourself

i. look in a mirror and know that that’s you

ii. I am good/bad at ? – know your qualities and skills

1. Also understanding if you are ashamed/proud of yourself – this  

helps us evaluate ourselves and gain self-knowledge  

Ex: if student passes/fails a test they can assess if they are a good  

student or good studier

2. Ex: if student passes/fails a test they can assess if they are a good  

student or good studier

e. reflexive consciousness can be biased – we think we are better or worse than we  actually are

i. this can lead to depression or help us grow depending on the bias

2) Interpersonal Self – relates to others; how you perceive that others perceive you (this is  subjective and biased on both sides)

a. How you relate “who you are” to others

b. “I am” statements relating you to others

c. Includes how you present yourself to other people

d. Uses others to find out your skills and attributes

e. Public Self-Awareness – looking glass self

i. Looking to others to attain information about the self

ii. Am I meeting others’ expectations? (helps you know those expectations  too)

iii. Social emotions – aimed at managing relations with others based on their  reactions to you – Ex: guilt, embarrassment

iv. Social comparison – am I better/worse than him?

f. The self is constantly concerned with gaining acceptance

g. Self-presentation – how we show off our self to others – we want people to know  certain things about us (skills, beliefs, opinions) based on the situation and the  impression we want to give; Ex: self in class vs. self at a party

h. How often do we: swear at our parents, walk around naked in public, hold back a  smile or tears, go with the crowd, hold the attitude?

i. Theory of Planned Behavior

i. Norms – what society deems acceptable  

ii. Personal standards – private attitudes, opinions, beliefs

iii. Desired impression – norms vs. personal standards – Do you care what  other people think about you? (what’s more important, norms or your  


3) Agentic Self (or Executive Function) – the self’s decision maker

a. The self is very active, not passive – it attends to and corrects

i. Self-control – the self’s ability to override impulses (short term vs. long term  gratification)

1. Should I act on immediate self-interest or the long term  

goals/desires and relationships of others?

ii. Working self-concept: Takes information from self standards (reflexive

consciousness) and others expectations (interpersonal self) and decides  

what is important for defining the self ???? Self Schema  

b. Self schema: the framework of beliefs about self-concept

i. Organized information about the self – it’s like memory but it contains  

relative information about the self; domains of self-worth

ii. Ex: similar to how you organize your personal iphone; people organize their  apps differently than others because it’s organized so that they can best find  and use the information

∙ Other things to think about

o Is there really such a thing as true or actual self? Would our true self be who WE  perceive ourselves to be or how others perceive us to be?

o Are you comparing yourself to your standards (reflexive) or others’ standards  (interpersonal)?

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