Topics in Cognitive Science 7 (4):595-610 (2015)

Using samples from three diverse populations, we test evolutionary hypotheses regarding how people reason about the inheritance of various traits. First, we provide a framework for differentiat-ing the outputs of mechanisms that evolved for reasoning about variation within and between biological taxa and culturally evolved ethnic categories from a broader set of beliefs and categories that are the outputs of structured learning mechanisms. Second, we describe the results of a modified “switched-at-birth” vignette study that we administered among children and adults in Puno, Yasawa, and adults in the United States. This protocol permits us to study perceptions of prenatal and social transmission pathways for various traits and to differentiate the latter into vertical versus horizontal cultural influence. These lines of evidence suggest that people use all three mechanisms to reason about the distribution of traits in the population. Participants at all three sites develop expectations that morphological traits are under prenatal influence, and that belief traits are more culturally influenced. On the other hand, each population holds culturally specific beliefs about the degree of social influence on non-morphological traits and about the degree of vertical transmission—with only participants in the United States expecting parents to have much social influence over their children. We reinterpret people's differentiation of trait transmission pathways in light of humans' evolutionary history as a cultural species
Keywords Cross‐cultural psychology  Cognitive development  Dual inheritance theory  Folksociology  Adoption paradigm  Folkbiology  Social learning  Vertical transmission
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/tops.12163
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,261
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Origin of Concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
The Weirdest People in the World?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Diversity as Asset.Andrea Bender, Sieghard Beller & Nancy J. Nersessian - 2015 - Topics in Cognitive Science 7 (4):677-688.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Cultural Traits and Cultural Integration.R. Lee Lyman - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):357-358.
Homology Across Inheritance Systems.Russell Powell & Nicholas Shea - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (6):781-806.
Cultural Evolution.Matteo Mameli & Kim Sterelny - 2009 - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Phenogenotypes Break Up Under Countervailing Evolutionary Pressures.Robert Aunger - 2000 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):147-147.


Added to PP index

Total views
42 ( #257,605 of 2,455,785 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,201 of 2,455,785 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes