Skip to main content

Part of the book series: Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology ((CAPP,volume 2))

  • 2060 Accesses

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to contextualize optimal experience and the process of individual psychological selection within the two main inheritance systems that influence human behavior: the biological and the cultural ones. The most recent acquisitions in the study of the processes of selection and transmission of biological and cultural information will be briefly outlined. Culture will be described as an emergent inheritance system that ultimately predominates on biology in shaping and directing human behavior at both the individual and social levels. The manifold interaction patterns between culture and biology, and their impact on the relationships among human societies will be highlighted. Material and symbolic artifacts will be briefly analyzed as extrasomatic cultural products which substantially mediate the relationship between individuals and their environment. The closing section will focus on the role of individuals as active agents, who create, select, and replicate with time biological and cultural information according to personal meanings, goals, and experiences which are only partially constrained by biological and cultural inheritance.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References

  • Alexander, R. D. (1987). The biology of moral systems. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  • Aunger, R. A. (Ed.) (2000). Darwinizing culture: The status of memetics as a science. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barkow, J. H., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Basalla, G. (1988). The evolution of technology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bateson, P. P. & Hinde, R. A. (Eds.). (1976). Growing points in ethology. London: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (2005). The cultural animal. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berger, P. L., & Luckman, T. (1966). The social construction of reality. New York: Doubleday & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berger, P. L., & Luckman, T. (1966). The social construction of reality. New York: Double-day & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blackmore, S. J. (1999). The meme machine. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blackmore, S. (2007). Those dreaded memes: The advantage of memetics over “symbolic inheritance”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 365–366.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bongaarts, J., & Watkins, S. C. (1996). Social interactions and contemporary fertility transitions. Population and Development Review, 22, 639–682.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyd, R., Gintis, H., Bowles, S., & Richerson, P. J. (2003). The evolution of altruistic punishment. PNASProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 100, 3531–3535.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1985). Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bridgeman, B. (2007). One-generation Lamarckism: The role of environment in genetic development. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 367–368.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brune, M. (2000). Neoteny, psychiatric disorders and the social brain: Hypotheses on heterochrony and the modularity of the mind. Anthropology & Medicine, 7, 301–318.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buchan, N. R., Croson, R., & Dawes, R. M. (2002). Swift neighbours and persistent strangers: A cross-cultural investigation of trust and reciprocity in social exchange. American Journal of Sociology, 108, 168–206.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buss, D. M. (1999). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buss, D. M. (2000). The evolution of happiness. American Psychologist, 55, 15–23.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, C. A., & Millen, A. E. (2008). Experimental models for testing hypotheses about cumulative cultural evolution. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29, 165–171.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, J. C., Orubuloye, I. O., & Caldwell, P. (1997). Male and female circumcision in Africa from a regional to a specific Nigerian examination. Social Science & Medicine, 44, 1181–1193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calegari, P., & Massimini, F. (1976). Introduzione alla teoria del valori umani. Milano: ISEDI.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calegari, P., & Massimini, F. (1978). Psicologia dell’artefatto normativo sociale. Milano: Franco Angeli.

    Google Scholar 

  • Changeux, J. P., & Chavaillon, J. (1995). Origins of the human brain. Oxford: Clarendon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cleland, J., Verrall, J., & Vaessen, M. (1983). Preference for the sex of children and their influence on reproductive behaviour. World Fertility Survey, Comparative Studies, 27. Voorborg: International Statistical Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cloak, F. T. (1975). Is a cultural ethology possible? Human Ecology, 3, 161–182.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cook, R. (1976). Damage to physical health from pharaonic circumcision (infibulation) of females: A review of the medical literature, Report from regional advisor of World Health Organization to Division of Family Health. Geneva: WHO.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crook, J. H. (1980). The evolution of human consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Massimini, F. (1985). On the psychological selection of bio-cultural information. New Ideas in Psychology, 3, 115–138.

    Google Scholar 

  • Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection. London: Murray.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dawkins, R. (1982). The extended phenotype. Oxford: W.H. Freeman & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delle Fave, A. (2009). Optimal experience and meaning: Which relationship? Psychological Topics. Special issue on positive psychology, 18, 285–302.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delle Fave, A., & Massimini, F. (2000). Subjective experience and the building of parental roles in a bio-cultural perspective. In A. L. Comunian & U. P. Gielen (Eds.), International perspectives on human development (pp. 159–175). Lengerich: Pabst Science Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delle Fave, A., & Massimini, F. (2002). Cultural change and human behaviour: Evolution or development? In A. Delle Fave & M. B. Pun (Eds.), In pursuit of a sustainable modernisation: Culture and policies in Nepal (pp. 13–34). Milano: Arcipelago Edizioni.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunbar, R. J. M. (1998). The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 178–190.

    Google Scholar 

  • Durham, W. H. (1982). Interactions of genetic and cultural evolution: Models and examples. Human Ecology, 10, 289–323.

    Google Scholar 

  • Durham, W. H. (1991). Coevolution: Genes, culture and human diversity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edelman, G. M. (1992). Bright air, brilliant fire: On the matter of the mind. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisler, R. (1987). The chalice and the blade. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

    Google Scholar 

  • Finucane, M. L., & Holup, J. L. (2006). Psychosocial and cultural factors affecting the perceived risk of genetically modified food: An overview of the literature. Social Science & Medicine, 60, 1603–1612.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flinn, M. V. (1997). Culture and the evolution of social learning. Evolution and Human Behavior, 18, 23–67.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fragaszy, D. M., & Perry, S. (2003). The biology of traditions. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freedman, D. G., & Gorman, J. (1993). Attachment and the transmission of culture: An evolutionary perspective. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, 16, 297–329.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gauvain, M. (1995). Thinking in niches: Sociocultural influences on cognitive development. Human Development, 38, 25–45.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gimbutas, M. (1991). The civilization of the goddess. San Francisco: Harper.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gluckman, P., & Hanson, M. (2005). The foetal matrix: Evolution, development and disease. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493–503.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grassivaro Gallo, P., & Viviani, F. (1992). The origin of infibulation in Somalia: An ethological hypothesis. Ethology and Sociobiology, 13, 253–265.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grinde, B. (1996). Darwinian happiness: Biological advice on the quality of life. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, 19, 249–260.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harré, R., & Secord, P. F. (1972). The explanation of social behavior. Totawa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Henrich, J., Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (2008). Five misunderstandings about cultural evolution. Human Nature, 19, 119–137.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heyligen, F., Joslyn, C., & Turchin, V. (Eds.) (1995). The quantum of evolution: Towards a theory of metasystems transition. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hinde, R. A. (1974). Biological bases of human social behavior. New York: McGraw Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirsch, H. V. B., & Spinelli, D. N. (1970). Visual experience modifies distribution of horizontally and vertically oriented receptive field in cats. Science, 168, 869–871.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hong, Y., Wan, C., No, S., & Chiu, C. (2007). Multicultural identities. In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology (pp. 323–345). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hrdy, S. B. (1981). The woman that never evolved. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jablonka, E., & Lamb, M. J. (2005). Evolution in four dimensions: Genetic, epigenetic, behavioural and symbolic variations in the history of life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jablonka, E., & Lamb, M. J. (2007). Précis of “evolution in four dimensions”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 353–392.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kalaloski, V., & Nurmi, J. (1998). Identity and educational transitions: Age differences in adolescent exploration and commitment related to education, occupation, and family. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8, 29–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kluckhohn, F., & Strodtbeck, F. (1961). Variants in value orientation. New York: Row Peterson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kunnen, E. S., & Bosma, H. A. (1996). Adolescent conflict and the development of meaning making. In L. Verhofstadt-Denève, I. Kienhorst, & C. Braet (Eds.), Conflict and development in adolescence (pp. 61–74). Leiden: DSWO Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kunnen, E. S., & Bosma, H. A. (2000). Development of meaning making: A dynamic systems approach. New Ideas in Psychology, 18, 57–82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Labov, W. (2001). Principles of linguistic change: Social factors (Vol. 29). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Laland, K. N., Odling-Smee, J., & Feldman, M. W. (2000). Niche construction, biological evolution, and cultural change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 131–146.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Leonard, L. (1996). Female circumcision in southern Chad: Origins, meaning, and current practice. Social Science & Medicine, 43, 255–263.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leung, K., & Morris, M. W. (2001). Justice through the lens of culture and ethnicity. In J. Sanders & V. L. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of law and social sciences: Justice (pp. 343–378). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Low, B. S. (1989). Cross-cultural patterns in the training of children: An evolutionary perspective. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 103, 311–319.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • MacCormack, C., Strathern, M. (Eds.). (1980). Nature, culture and gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mace, R., & Holden, C. J. (2005). A phylogenetic approach to cultural evolution. Trends in Biology and Evolution, 3, 116–121.

    Google Scholar 

  • Magnus, D. C. (2009). Ethical and social aspects of transgenic plants. In V. Ravitsky, A. Fiester, & A. Caplan (Eds.), The penn center guide to bioethics (pp. 435–446). New York: Springer Publishing Co. US.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a psychology of being (2nd ed). Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

    Google Scholar 

  • Massimini, F. (1982). Individuo, cultura, ambiente: I Papua Kapauku della Nuova Guinea Occidentale [Individual, culture, environment: The Papua Kapauku of Western New Guinea]. Ricerche di Psicologia, 22–23, 27–154.

    Google Scholar 

  • Massimini, F., & Calegari, P. (1979). Il contesto normativo sociale [The normative social context]. Milano: Angeli.

    Google Scholar 

  • Massimini, F., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Carli, M. (1987). Optimal experience: A tool for psychiatric rehabilitation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175, 545–549.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Massimini, F., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Delle Fave, A. (1988). Flow and biocultural evolution. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 60–81). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Massimini, F., & Delle Fave, A. (2000). Individual development in a bio-cultural perspective. American Psychologist, 55, 24–33.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mays, V. M., Bullock, M., Rosenzweig, M. R., & Wessells, M. (1998). Ethnic conflict: Global challenges and psychological perspectives. American Psychologist, 53, 737–742.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mealey, L., & Mackey, W. (1990). Variation in offspring sex ratio in women of differing social status. Ethology and Sociobiology, 11, 83–95.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mesarovic, M. D., Macko, A., & Takahara, J. (1970). Theory of hierarchical multilevel systems. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mesoudi, A., Withen, A., & Laland, K. N. (2006). Towards a unified science of cultural evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29, 329–383.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, J. G. (2001). Culture and moral development. In D. Matsumoto (Ed.), The handbook of culture and psychology (pp. 151–170). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mundinger, P. C. (1980). Animal culture and a general theory of cultural evolution. Ethology and Sociobiology, 1, 183–223.

    Google Scholar 

  • Newson, L., Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (2007). Cultural evolution and the shaping of cultural diversity. In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology (pp. 454–476). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicholson, N. (1997). Evolutionary psychology: Toward a new view of human nature and organizational society. Human Relations, 50, 1053–1078.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nucci, L., & Lee, J. (1993). Morality and personal autonomy. In G. Noam & T. E. Wrem (Eds.), Studies in contemporary german social thought. The moral self (pp. 123–148). Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Neill, P., & Petrinovich, L. (1998). A preliminary cross-cultural study of moral intuitions. Evolution and Human Behavior, 19, 349–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oyama, S. (2000). Evolution’s eye: A systems view on the biology-culture divide. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paarlberg, R. (2000). Genetically modified crops in developing countries: Promise or peril? Environment, 42, 19–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pagel, M., & Mace, R. (2004). The cultural wealth of nations. Nature, 428, 275–278.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Park, C. B., & Cho, N. (1995). Consequences of son preference in a low fertility society: Imbalance of the sex ratio at birth in Korea. Population Development Review, 21, 59–84.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pattee, H. H. (1973). Hierarchy theory: The challenge of complex systems. New York: Braziller.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, S. A., & Somit, A. (1978). Methodological problems associated with a biologically-oriented social science. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 1, 11–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pospisil, L. (1974). Anthropology of law. New Haven, CT: HRAF Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (1978). A dual inheritance model of human evolutionary process: Basic postulates and a simple model I. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 1, 127–154.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (2005). Not by genes alone: How culture transformed human evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th Ed.). New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rokeach, M. (1974). The nature of human values. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ruyle, E. E. (1973). Genetic and cultural pools: Some suggestions for a unified theory of biocultural evolution. Human Ecology, 1, 201–215.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 2, 141–166.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schaller, M., Simpson, J., & Kenrick, D. (2006). Evolution and social psychology. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmidt, M. R., & Wei, W. (2006). Loss of agro-biodiversity, uncertainty, and perceived control: A comparative risk perception study in Austria and China. Risk Analysis, 26, 455–470.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz, S. H., & Bilsky, W. (1987). Toward a theory of the universal structure and content of values: Extensions and cross-cultural replications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 878–891.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simon, H. (1969). The sciences of artificial. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simonton, D. (1994). Greatness: Who makes history and why. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singer, J. A. (2004). Narrative identity and meaning making across the adult life span: An introduction. Journal of Personality, 72, 438–459.

    Google Scholar 

  • Somit, A., & Peterson, S. A. (1996). Indoctrinability as an evolutionary precondition for democracy. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, 19, 41–54.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sperber, D. (2000). An objection to the memetic approach to culture. In R. Aunger (Ed.), Darwinizing culture: The status of memetics as a science (pp. 163–173). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.) (1988). The nature of creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Super, C. M., & Harkness, S. (1986). The developmental niche: A conceptualization at the interface of child and culture. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9, 545–569.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sword, W., Watt, S., & Krueger, P. (2006). Postpartum health, service needs, and access to care experiences of immigrant and Canadian-born women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 35, 717–727.

    Google Scholar 

  • Symons, D. (1990). Adaptiveness and adaptation. Ethology and Sociobiology, 11, 427–444.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, S. E., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1995). Effects of mindset on positive illusions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 213–226.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tomasello, M., Kruger, A. C., & Ratner, H. H. (1993). Cultural learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16, 495–552.

    Google Scholar 

  • Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Triandis, H. C. (1999). Individualism and collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview.

    Google Scholar 

  • Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., & Kitayama, S. (2004). Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and empirical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 223–239.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vaalsiner, J. (1998). The guided mind. Cambridge, MT: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vaalsiner, J. (2007). Personal culture and conduct of value. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 1, 59–65.

    Google Scholar 

  • Werner, E. E. (1979). Cross-cultural Child Development: a view from the Planet Earth. Monterey, CA: Brooks/COIe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weiss, P. (1971). Hierarchical organized systems in theory and practice. New York: Hafner.

    Google Scholar 

  • Williamson, N. E. (1976). Sons or daughters: A cross-cultural survey of parental preferences. Beverly Hills and London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. O. (1975). Sociobiology: The new synthesis. Harvard, MA: Bellknap.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yamagishi, T., Jin, N., & Kiyonari, T. (1999). Bounded generalized reciprocity: Ingroup boasting and ingroup favoritism. Advances in Group Processes, 16, 161–197.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Antonella Delle Fave .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Delle Fave, A., Massimini, F., Bassi, M. (2011). Biology, Culture, and Human Behavior. In: Psychological Selection and Optimal Experience Across Cultures. Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology, vol 2. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9876-4_2

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics