Contributions To The Study Of Culture And Cognition.

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The five papers that comprise this dissertation illustrate the complexity of interdisciplinary work as well as the advantages of the culture and cognition approach. Chapters II to IV use cross-cultural evidence to argue that the understanding of psychological processes such as the ontogenesis of belief attribution and categorization can be enriched by adopting this perspective. The two papers on belief attribution among Yukatek children show that this capacity emerges around age 6 (only slightly later than in other cultures); that children differentiate between the minds of humans and God from early on; and that children who perform well on human false-belief tests are able use their knowledge of differences between kinds of agents---human, animal, and non-natural---to make inferences about what they can know. Chapter IV argues that historical processes can shape the structure of familial and extra-familial social relations, which, in turn, are thought to affect the performance of northern and southern Italians on a simple categorization task. Southern Italians as a group paired more items thematically than did northern Italians; among Southerners, low-SES participants also showed a preference for thematic over taxonomic grouping. Chapters V and VI complement the previous ones by showing that anthropologists have sometimes made mistaken or incomplete claims about the psychological processes that they inferred from their observations. Chapter V revisits the topic of the attribution of knowledge, this time from the perspective of the professional anthropologist, and is meant as a warning against the unreflective application of our innate tendency to attribute knowledge to others when thinking scientifically. Chapter VI argues that three organizational features of culture observed by anthropologists---its systematicity; the recurrence of distinctions across semantic, conceptual, and practical boundaries; and the 'bleeding' of properties between associated concepts---may find their origin in fundamental operating principles of the mind---respectively, the cognitive principle of relevance, the decompositionality of cognitive processing, and the network structure of semantic memory. This reframing of some features of culture in cognitive terms opens up some ethnographic observations to new avenues for theory and relevant data from other disciplines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243470614
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/2/2011
  • Pages: 82
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.17 (d)

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