Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker series
 
The Evolution of Culturally Diverse Social Psychologies
 
A Presentation by Alan Page Fiske
Department of Anthropology
University of California at Los Angeles
May 15, 1998 at 12:30 - 2:00pm
Anthropology Department, HSSB 2001A
 
 
Abstract
 
The Evolution of Culturally Diverse Social Psychologies
 
All evolved adaptations are environmentally contingent, consisting of adaptively differentiated responses to different environments. The most distinctive, powerful human adaptation is the capacity for complex, varied social coordination. Human fitness depends on close coordination of social action with people in the communities and networks in which the person interacts. These communities differ substantially in their social organization, a fact which requires humans to be capable of participating effectively in a wide variety of forms of sociality. The capacity to create and coordinate these diverse social arrangements depends on, and in turn requires, a set of evolved, highly structured psychological potentials. These structured, motivated potentials I call "mods" because they are the modifiable, often modular, motivated, generative mediators of human sociality. These mods require and depend on cultural complements; they have evolved in conjunction with a range of cultural complements, which they in turn enable. (Mods hence constitute the environment for cultural selection.) Mods permit culturally diverse yet highly motivated, closely coordinated social interaction. Indeed, mods have been selected to do this: the diversity of socialities that mods enable is the major factor which has made them so adaptive.  I illustrate and support this theory with evidence regarding (1) language; (2) the four elementary relational models; and (3) major sex and food taboos that are linked to the strongest forms of Communal Sharing relationships. 
 
For further background, see An introduction to relational models theory and a summary of related research.
 
 

Alan Page Fiske

Alan Fiske received his Ph.D. from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, was in the Peace Corps in the Upper Volta, has been a professor in the Psychology Dept. of the University of Pennsylvania, and is presently an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. 
 
 
 
Selected Publications:

A. P. Fiske. Relativity within Moose ("Mossi") culture: Four incommensurable models for social relationships. Ethos 18:180-204, 1990.

A. P. Fiske. Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations. New York: Free Press (Macmillan), 1991.
 

 

Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker series