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Mindreading, Mindshaping, and Evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597 - 628
Number of pages32
JournalBIOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

King's Authors

Abstract

I present and apply some powerful tools for studying humanevolution and the impact of cultural resourceson it. The tools in question are a theory ofniche construction and a theory about theevolutionary significance of extragenetic (and,in particular, of psychological and social)inheritance. These tools are used to show howculturally transmitted resources can berecruited by development and becomegeneratively entrenched. The case study isconstituted by those culturally transmitteditems that social psychologists call`expectancies'. Expectancy effects aremindshaping effects of our mindreadingdispositions. I show how expectancies may havebeen recruited by important human developmentalprocesses (like those involved in languageacquisition and those responsible for genderdifferences) and how they may have becomeentrenched. If the hypothesis is correct, therelation between mindreading and humanevolution is more intricate than usuallythought.

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