Since its inception, psychology’s Western-centric bias has been an impediment to a deeper understanding of human cognition. Our speakers argue that it is time for a radical transformation of social scientific research, and our understanding of human nature as a whole.
The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to jointly present Joseph Henrich and Barbara Rogoff
Friday, February 26th, from 2pm – 4:30pm, virtually via Zoom
Meeting ID: 436 158 7368
Joseph Henrich, Professor and Chair of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard
Over the last few decades, a growing body of research has revealed not only substantial global variation along several important psychological dimensions, but also that people from societies that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual, often anchoring the ends of global psychological distributions. To explain these patterns, I’ll first show how the most fundamental of human institutions—those governing marriage and the family—influence our motivations, perceptions, intuitions and emotions. Then, to explain the peculiar trajectory of European societies over the last two millennia, I lay out how one particular branch of Christianity systematically dismantled the intensive kin-based institutions in much of Latin Christendom, thereby altering people’s psychology and opening the door to the proliferation of new institutional forms, including voluntary associations (charter towns, universities and guilds), impersonal markets, individualistic religions and representative governments. In light of these findings, I close by arguing that the anthropological, psychological and economic sciences should transform into a unified evolutionary approach that considers not only how human nature influences our behavior and societies but also how the resulting institutions, technologies and languages subsequently shape our minds.
What is learning? Cultural perspectives
Barbara Rogoff, UCSC Foundation Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California in Santa Cruz
Many people who have spent decades in Western schools take for granted a particular way of thinking of learning — as either receiving transmitted bits of information or acquiring it from an external world. In this presentation, I will argue for a paradigm shift, to seeing learning as a process of growth, as people transform their ways of participating in ongoing endeavors to become more competent and helpful contributors to the collective good of all, across time. My perspective is inspired and informed by research observations of a prevalent way of learning in many Indigenous-heritage communities of the Americas — Learning by Observing and Pitching In to family and community endeavors (LOPI). I will discuss some implications of these ways of conceiving of learning, based in studies of how Indigenous American communities often organize children’s learning, with associated distinctions in children’s helpfulness, ways of collaborating, and ways of learning.
Both speakers will join us in a GatherTown social following the event. Spots are limited to 10 graduate students and 10 faculty on a first come, first serve basis. Please email Dimitris Xygalatas, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested.
If you’d like to meet individually with Dr. Henrich during the day on 2/26, please email Dimitris Xygalatas, email@example.com. If you’d like to meet with Dr. Rogoff, please email Letty Naigles, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Responses for both GatherTown and one-on-ones are needed by Friday, 2/19.