Affective Foundations of Sociality: Co-evolution of Genes and Culture

[Speaker] Kitayama, Shinobu:1
1:University of Michigan (United States of America)

Humans use a seemingly arbitrary set of rules (cultural norms) and associated symbols to achieve social coordination and cooperation within their ingroup. In the present talk, I propose that the psychological capacity for culture is anchored in evolutionarily primitive affective mechanisms that foster a strong commitment to cultural norms and associated cultural symbols. In the first half of the talk, I will discuss our recent work on the biosocial model of affective decision-making, which holds that new affective dispositions emerge when individuals seek to resolve behavioral conflicts. In the second half of the talk, I suggest that the proposed affective mechanisms may play a significant role in fostering strong attachment to culture. Moreover, because these mechanisms involve dopaminergic pathways of the brain, genetic polymorphisms that influence the dopamine signaling may have played a significant role in undergirding the capacity for culture. Initial evidence for this hypothesis is discussed.
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