June 2, 2008

The Human Adaptation for Culture

Professor Michael Tomasello from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology’s Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, in Leipzig, Germany gave the inaugural annual public address for the School of Psychology entitled "The Human Adaptation for Culture".

Lying at the core of his argument is language and therefore culture is the product of remarkable and recently evolved faculty to understand other minds. Human beings are biologically adapted for culture in ways that other primates are not, as evidenced most clearly by the fact that only human cultural traditions accumulate modifications over historical time (the ratchet effect).

The key adaptation is one that enables individuals to understand other individuals as intentional agents like the self. This species-unique form of social cognition emerges in human ontogeny at approximately 1 year of age, as infants begin to engage with other persons in various kinds of joint attentional activities involving gaze following, social referencing, and gestural communication.

Listen to the PODCAST: Here

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