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Social Psychology
by David G. Myers 8th Edition

Genes, Culture, and Gender

Human Nature and Cultural Diversity

Evolution and behavior

Common origin of all humans means that we share many similarities despite superficial differences that have grown as we have populated the earth.

Evolutionary psychology studies how natural selection predisposes certain psychological traits and social behaviors suited to particular contexts. What traits and behaviors have survival value?

Human Nature & Cultural Diversity, cont.

Culture and behavior

Cultural diversity: The hallmark of our species is the capacity to learn and adapt, so that we can live in a variety of environments. This adaptability gives rise to our cultural diversity.

The diversity of our languages, customs, and behaviors suggests that much of our behavior is socially programmed, not hardwired.

We are increasingly surrounded by cultural diversity.

Norms (rules for expected & accepted behavior) are taken for granted within a culture but may seem odd to others.




Proxemics – Rules about Social Spacing

Zone of intimacy: body contact to 18 inches

Zone of personal distance: 18 in. – 4 ft. (close friends, trusted acquaintances)

Social distance: 4 – 12 feet (casual friends and work settings)

Public distance: 12 feet and beyond

Negative effects occur when we violate proxemic rules in either direction.

Human Nature & Cultural Diversity, cont.

Culture and behavior

Cultural similarity: "essential universality" below the surface of differences

Some norms are held in common across cultures (rules of war, prohibitions against incest, rules of friendship)

Big Five Social Beliefs – universal dimensions of social beliefs, may vary in relative importance and application across cultures

Brown’s universal norm – Forms of address communicate not only social distance but social status.

Human Nature and Cultural Diversity

Gender Similarities and Differences

Evolution and Gender: Doing What Comes Naturally?

Gender and mating preferences

Evolutionary theory states that, because of biology, men seek to reproduce widely & women wisely.

Also states that each sex offers what the other desires (money & protection from men, healthy appearance connoting fertility from women).

Gender and hormones

May account for greater aggression in men, fewer differences with age.

Reflections on evolutionary psychology

May exemplify a hindsight bias.

Does not explain cultural variations in behavior.

Culture and Gender

Social-Role Theory

A Closer Look At Gender


Biology and culture

Both are important, and they interact.

Situations and persons

Situations affect different people differently

People often choose their situations

People often create their situations