from month 08/2008

Crime without Punishment?

I thought I'd start by posting about something that has been puzzling me of late. One of the purposes of criminal law in many countries is to protect individuals, or society at large, from harmful individuals, by means of either punishment (which usually takes the form of jail sentences) or ...

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The spontaneous expression of pride and shame

It's quite refreshing to see such a creative use of methodology to investigate cross-cultural universals: The present research examined whether the recognizable nonverbal expressions associated with pride and shame may be biologically innate behavioral responses to success and failure. ...

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A cultural practice, conjuring, gives food for thought to cognitive neuroscientists

Ideally, the relationship between the cognitive and the social sciences should be a reciprocal one. However, and with some notable exception (e.g. Berlin and Kay's work on colours), it has been more common to see cognitive psychology inspiring anthropological research that the other way around. ...

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Cumulative cultural evolution in the lab

A new paper studying cultural evolution (in that case language-like evolution) experimentally by the Edinburgh crew: Simon Kirby, Hannah Cornish, and Kenny Smith Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language. PNAS 2008 ...

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On essentialism

In a letter in the July issue of Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Paul Bloom and Susan Gelman recount the selection procedures used to identify the 14th Dalai Lama. The then 2-year old boy was presented with objects that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama together with inauthentic items that were ...

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Economic games in and out of the lab

Further to Charles' recent a post, an interesting article, Collective Action in Action: Prosocial Behavior in and out of the Laboratory, by Michael Guervin and Jeffrey Winking in the recent American Anthropologist: Experiments have become a popular method to study altruism and cooperation ...

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