ca Pascal Boyer

Cognition and culture
(Anthropology 3383).
Offered every Fall semester.

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Examines the influence of evolved cognitive dispositions (the way natural selection engineered the human mind) on the transmission of cultural knowledge. Dispositions present from early childhood make certain kinds of cultural knowledge particularly easy to acquire and therefore culturally stable. We also consider the evidence for differences in cognitive processes triggered by different social environments.  Emphasis is on empirical studies and experimental methods in the study of cultural similarity and differences.

Human Evolutionary Psychology
(Psychology 4222)
Offered every Fall semester.

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hy are human minds the way they are? How can we explain who people find attractive, why they form parties and coalitions, under what conditions they can cooperate or fight? This course introduces evolutionary accounts of aspects of perception, memory, decision-making and emotional systems.

The Good Cause:
Psychological Anthropology of Moral Crusades
(Anthropology 4118)

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Why do people join moral crusades? These are social movements based on powerful moral intuitions, ranging from the abolitionist and suffragette movements to witch hunts, insurgency and ethnic riots. People who join these movements are persuaded to work for “the good cause”. This course introduces psychological anthropology perspectives on the reasons why people would feel motivated by such causes. We will examine a series of empirical cases, including recent events, and assess the relevance of models based on individual psychological dynamics, intuitive moral capacities, and human motivation for participation in collective action. Each seminar session includes a background presentation by the instructor, followed by a discussion of the assigned readings, as well as student presentations.

Human Nature in Minds and Cultures
(Anthropology 4222)

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What is unique about humans? And what is universal among human beings? Is human nature the product of a specific genome, or is it shaped by human cultures? Does it make sense to think of nature as the opposite of nurture? We will consider aspects of human nature in domains such as family and gender, politics, religious extremism, ethnic identity and morality, from the  viewpoints of cultural anthropology, philosophy, evolutionary biology and psychology.

Autobiographical Memory
(Psychology 4625)

This course is about how people create and remember their personal life histories. The topics include basic research issues in autobiographical memory, as well as theoretical and practical aspects of the subject. We examine the development of memory, amnesia, eye-witness testimony, biases in recollection, memory distortions, emotion and memory as well as the influence of memory on decision-making. This is a writing-intensive course.
Topics in Cognitive Development
(Psychology 4301)

We will briefly describe the classical Piagetian paradigm in cognitive development, but mainly focus on recent experimental findings and theories in a variety of domains of cognitive development: how children acquire number concepts, how they develop intuitions about animacy and agency, how they develop mind-reading (aka "Theory of Mind"), whether development requires strong prior biases, whether it requires general association algorithms or on the contrary specialised principles. Emphasis is on experimental findings.
Introduction to Memory Studies
(Psychology 221) Now taught by Larry Jacoby

Follow this link to Dr Jacoby's site

In this course we introduce students to the many aspects of memory and the many effects of its workings on individual and social life. Topics include individual memory systems, episodic and semantic memory, working memory, memory systems in the brain, amnesia, memory and self, autobiographical memory, historical events and personal memories, remembered events and the construction of collective identity, processes of knowledge transmission.