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Origin and Evolution of Cultural Level Organization

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1 Origin and Evolution of Cultural Level Organization
AILUN – Lecture 6 Adapted from Glenn, S. S. (2004). Individual Behavior, culture, and social change. The Behavior Analyst, 27,

2 Culture Defined: Patterns of learned behavior transmitted socially, as well as products of that behavior (objects, technologies, institutions) Prerequisites: social species, uncommitted behavior, susceptibility to operant processes Level of analysis: supraorganismic – involves interlocking behavioral contingencies of multiple organisms No new behavioral processes -- each organism’s operant behavior still analyzed in terms of behavioral principles operating at the level of the individual organism Reasons for similarities in content of human operants similarities in non-social or social environments result in independently produced similarities of operants in different repertoires (no cultural transmission) social environmental events incidentally contribute to similarity similarity systematically programmed via contrived socially mediated contingencies

3 Cultural Practices Defined: similar patterns of behavioral content, usually maintained by similar environmental content Examples Twiggy hair style Driving stick-shift automobiles Presenting professional papers Point of transmission may be a single link between behavior of transmittor and transmittee Hair stylist A may create style pictured in a magazine (or in person) and other hair stylists produce a similar result, which may be repeated many times Hair stylist A demonstrates styling hair and stylist B imitates A’s activities, producing a similar result (B repeats many times with many patrons)

4 Cumulative Effect of Cultural Practices
Examples Smoking – contributes to illnesses, increases public health cost Dumping waste in waterways – kills wildlife, causes illness Running air conditioners – affects ozone layer, increases incidence of skin cancer Driving cars – depletes fossil fuel reserves, drives up cost of gasoline

5 Macrocontingencies1 Defined: Patterns of similar behavior (cultural practice) and their cumulative effects Example P1 drive to work 1 ltr gasoline P2 drive to work .5 ltr gasoline Cumulative effect P3 drive to work .3 ltr gasoline ltr/1 day/1 way P4 drive to work .2 ltr gasoline ltr annually No need for cultural level selection to explain the behavior or the cumulative effect: behavioral principles are sufficient

6 Engineering Change in Macrocontingencies
Arrange environment to bring about change in behavior of many individuals Implement reinforcement contingencies for car pooling (HOV lanes) Implement punishment contingencies for consumption (higher price) Social approval of conservation gradually becomes common P1 – drives to work,taking P2, P3, P4 P2 – rides with P gal 1way/1day P3 – rides with P gal annually P4 – rides with P1

7 Recurring Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies
In repetitions of a particular situation, Person A’s behavior repeatedly constitutes the environmental events participating in Person’s B’s operant contingencies and vice versa Example: Marta and Todd regularly cook meals together The repeating pattern of interlocking behavior for each twosome is maintained by the outcome of interlocking behavioral contingencies for that twosome Each twosome’s interlocking behavioral contingencies constitutes a cultural lineage Each time the pattern is instantiated it produces an outcome The outcomes (meals) may serve as back-up reinforcers for all the behaviors of each actor and it may also serve to maintain the pattern of interlocking contingencies This repeating pattern is a cultural practice if different actors independently participate in a similar repeating pattern of interlocking behavioral contingencies (Jim and Sam also regularly cook meals together, as do Jordan and Linda and many other twosomes)

8 Selection in the Evolution of Cultural Organization
Level of analysis: interrelated behavior of two or more organisms Schematic representation of cultural level contingencies of selection (metacontingencies) Organisms O, O’, O’’ Situation S Environment IBC1 IBC2 IBC1 IBC3 IBC1 IBC1 IBC4 IBC5 IBC1 Iterations C C C C C1 Environment Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies 1 All IBC1 recurrences constitute a particular cultural lineage

9 Metacontingencies Defined: Temporal relations between recurring interlocking behavioral contingencies and their consequent environment that account for frequency, form, or other properties of the lineage of recurring interlocking behavioral contingencies Example: Relation between Tom and Marta’s pattern of interlocking behavior and the resulting meals accounts for adjustments in the pattern Operant contingencies are embedded in the cultural entities that participate in metacontingencies Interlocking behavioral contingencies may be hierarchically nested as cultural organization becomes more complex

10 Engineering Change in Metacontingencies
Identify the interlocking behavioral contingencies that produce an aggregate outcome Change the metacontingency so that alternative interlocking behavioral contingencies are selected Change the behavioral contingencies embedded in the interlocking behavioral contingencies to produce a change in aggregate outcome

11 Schematic of Cultural Level Intervention
Problem: High frequency of pedestrian casualties in Brasilia Cross wide streets with fast traffic, not in crosswoaks Drivers not yielding to pedestrians Problem is cultural antecedent for IBC formation Participants in IBCs repeatedly produce an aggregate product: activity designed to change behavioral contingencies for drivers The aggregate product leads to a change in operant contingencies for drivers and pedestrians The change in operant contingencies results in lower frequency of pedestrian casualties Lower frequency of pedestrian casualties functions as cultural consequence maintaining IBCs

12 Macrocontingency Metacontingency Macrocontingency Similar driver
Operants & pedestrian O’s Cumulative cultural product Cultural consequence (Maintains IBCs) Aggregate Product Interlocking behavioral contingencies CP1 A CP3 Z CP4 Y Smaller number of traffic injuries (running over) Large number of pedestrian injuries CP2 W Macrocontingency Church and product Media and product Police and product Brasília University and product Metacontingency Traffic Dep. and product Macrocontingency CP1- Not respecting crosswalk (drivers) CP3- Respecting crosswalk (drivers) (drivers) CP2- Crossing outside of the crosswalk (pedestrians) CP4- Crossing inside of the crosswalk (pedestrians)

13 Next: Experimental Analysis of Cultural Selection

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