Anthropology 160 Week 4 Notes
Anthropology 160 Week 4 Notes ANTH 160
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Amanda Notetaker on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 160 at University of New Mexico taught by Dr. Tanya M. Meuller in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Human Life Course in Anthropology at University of New Mexico.
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Date Created: 09/15/16
Anthropology 160.001 The Human Life Course Week 4 Week 4 Readings: Low, Chapter 2, Racing the Red Queen: Selfish genes and their strategies, pp. 19- 34Low, Chapter 9, Nice Guys Can Win—In social species, anyway, pp. 146-62 9/13 Lecture 4 Reaction Norms Do we humans have reaction norms? Human morphological traits as reaction norms: Height, eyesight, weight Human behavioral traits as reaction norms: Sexual orientation –homosexual sexual experiences in contexts such as incarceration, all girl/boy schools, etc. Tinbergen’s 4 Levels of Causation: When you see a phenotype produced… 1. Proximate –what makes this behavior happen at any given moment? Hormonal cascade? Mechanism, physiological, neurotransmitters, male rage. HOW? 2. Ontogeny –how does the machinery develop as the organism grows? Different expression via infancy? Adolescence? Old age? Development- expression can be suppressed, punished or modeled in environment of growth. 3. Phylogenetic –how have the behavior systems of each species evolved until they became what they are now? Species history, sets range of options, humans and other higher primates can’t choose to have litters or external fertilization under normal conditions, only in fertility clinics. 4. Ultimate –in what ways does this behavior influence the survival and success of the organism? WHY? Fitness outcomes. Function or adaptive value, male rage Example: smoking. Proximate –dopamine pathways are opened; smoking because it feels good Ontogenetically – socially acceptable behavior, socially normalized at adolescence due to risk taking tendencies Phylogenetic –smoking at the psychoactive substance level: birds feed on fermented fruit to “get drunk” Ultimate –tobacco lowers parasite load (the additives to cigarettes are what is bad for you). Socially smoking has come with reproductive benefit of making you appear attractive Learning and Evolution Learning mechanisms are evolved structures of the brain o Solve a characteristic adaptive problem consistent throughout our history Example: do children naturally learn language? Yes. Do children naturally learn writing? No. We should be designed to learn some things better than others, and to not learn some things at all It should be very easy to learn behaviors that are strongly favored by natural selection Evolutionary interpretation: learning depends upon characteristic adaptive problems the organism regularly faces. Example: rats often experiment with new foods Some have toxins and they learn to avoid tastes paired with nausea Some foods are dangerous (can bite, sting, etc.) they learn to pair size, noises, flashy displays with foods that can injure Human Learning Biases We used to think that men are better at spatial rotation and women are better at object memory Humans in general are exceptionally good at learning faces and new vocabulary words. We are also good at understanding spatial relationships that are hard to learn in another form (like mathematical). Cosmides (1985) shows learning biases toward being able to detect cheaters in social contracts. Gender Bias Where are the Gender Differences? Male Priming Boosts Spatial Skills in Women (Sex Roles, August 2008, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp. 274-281) The effects of gender stereotype activation by priming on performance in a spatial task were investigated among a mixed adult sample (including students) of 161 men and women (mean age = 31.90) from Austria After a male or female gender stereotype activating task, participants worked on a test assessing mental rotation A significant main effect of priming on the performance in the mental rotation task emerged - a pronounced gender difference emerging only in the female priming condition, whereas it disappeared in the male priming condition. Growing mountain of evidence that “natural” ability differences are confounded by identity and subconscious self-stereotyping. Demographic expectations may be subtle or overt, but omnipresent, and much more powerful than most of us have ever considered. Social Learning Imitation: tendency to copy what others do *An evolved human trait not present in most other animals *Cultural transmission Example: One experiment allowed Cebus monkeys to watch another animal extract a peanut from a straw using a stick tool. After watching the solution, the monkeys were placed in a cage with a peanut inside a straw and a small stick. It took them just as long to figure out how to get the peanut as for monkeys who had never watched the solution (they did it by trial and error learning rather than copying). Humans solve such problems in an instant by watching and copying. Manipulation: some social norms lead to individual behavior that does not appear to be adaptive but instead conditioned by the context in which it occurs Some learning videos from class; apes versus humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHWXYeElJWU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zSut-U1Iks Culture as Learned Behaviors Culture is information acquired through social learning o Includes knowledge about technology, techniques, beliefs about natural and supernatural causality Consists of a set of rules (norms) about what behaviors are allowed or preferred that are enforced o By other members of society and determine the costs and benefits of alternative behaviors Culture is an environment created by people and rules rather than being composed of physical and non-human biological elements. Cultural rules produce high levels of local conformity to ‘arbitrary’ patterns It is easy to show that socially learned information about the world affects the way we interpret many aspects of the world Example: The interpretation of what is going on in a picture showing a fish swimming in front of other fish varies from Chinese to American students: The interpretation of what is going on in a picture showing a fish swimming in front of other fish varies from Chinese to American students. Chinese society, which is much more oriented to social conformity, leads to the interpretation that the lone fish has been ostracized from his group. Americans, who tend to interpret behavior as individually motivated, usually describe the lone fish as a leader or an independent thinker. *Interestingly, bicultural Chinese-American students at Berkeley will give either answer depending upon whether they have been primed with American or Chinese icons just prior to the test. 9/15 Lecture 4: individual versus group selection Ideas to detract from Darwin’s theory: Raise doubts about whether evolution had occurred, distracting attention from natural selection Acknowledge natural selection but minimize its significance by making it appear very weak in its effect o Things like birth control mess with the natural effects of selection Replace the idea that natural selection acts on the individual with the notion that natural selection acts for the benefit of the group or the species o Individual level: precisely looking at effects of natural selection through environmental and cultural factors. Natural selection favors both anatomical and behavioral traits. o Group selection: certain traits operate for the good of others (altruism) at the group level, even if disfavored for the individual. Example questions to think about: Why do birds lay fewer eggs than they could? Group view: population control Individual view: maximization of offspring survival Why do animals give alarm calls? Group view: to warn all the others Individual view: to warn their kin Why do bees sting intruders even when it kills them? Group view: to protect the queen Individual view: to protect their kin in the hive Why do animals commit infanticide? Group view: ? Individual view: to reduce competition for food sources Wynn-Edwards on Group Selection: Groups exist in isolated units Extinction of certain ‘selfish’ groups Replacement of those groups but those that had traits that promoted group survival Refuted by George Williams in 1966 (Adaptation and Natural Selection) o Grad student of Wynn-Edwards o Went to validate Edwards theory but found evidence to refute it George Williams thought experiment: 1. Robins inhabit a city park. 2. There’s only so much food –if robins reproduce too much they will overexploit their food supply and cause their own destruction Group selection reasoning: exercise reproductive restraint to keep them in balance with their environment, so as to preserve the species WRONG: WHY? Imagine two variant kinds of robins, one that lowers its reproduction for the good of the group, and the other which produces the maximum number of surviving offspring it can. The first type, the altruist, will leave less genetic copies of itself than the second type, the selfish bird. What will happen to the population through time? The selfish ones will predominate. Implications: All organisms will evolve to be selfish We will not find traits that are for the good of the group, species or planet, at the expense of the individual Organisms are not designed to maintain a population balance with the ecosystem *Lecture 4 will continue next week! The videos assigned on the syllabus have been changed to an at-home assignment, we will continue to thoroughly discuss this lecture next week.
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