Cultural Evolution

In his later years, Skhuier (1987a, 1989a) elaborated more fully on the importance of culture in shaping human personality. Selection is responsible for those cultural practices that have survived just as selection plays a key role hi humans' evolution ary history and also with the contingencies of reinforcement. "People do not observe particular practices in order that the group will be more likely to survive; they observe them because groups that induced their members to do so survived and transmitted them" (Skinner, 1987a, p. 57). hi other words, humans do not make a cooperative decision to do what is best for the society, but those societies whose members behaved cooperatively tended to survive.

Cultural practices such as toolmaking and verbal behavior began when an individual was rehiforced for ushig a tool or uttering a disthictive sound. Eventually, a cultural practice evolved that was reinforcing to the group, although not necessarily to the individual. Both toolmaking and verbal behavior have survival value for a group, but few people now make tools and even fewer invent new languages.

The remnants of culture, like those of natural selection, are not all adaptive. For example, the division of labor that evolved from the Industrial Revolution has helped society produce more goods, but it has led to work that is no longer directly reinforcing. Another example is warfare, which in the preindustrialized world benefited certain societies, but which now has evolved as a threat to human existence.

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