Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Let's learn from young children and great apes

[Jun 9, 2009 Michael Tomasello - Why We Cooperate
from Shared Symbolic Storage by (Michael)
Michael Tomasello has a new book out in October called "Why We Cooperate." What is interesting about this publication is that Tomasello presents his findings on great ape and infant cognition and and social and developmental psychologist Carol Dweck, anthropologist Joan Silk, philosopher Brian Skyrms, and developmental psychologist Elizabeth Spelke respond to and explore the implications of his work in light of their own research. Here's the description:
"Drop something in front of a two-year-old, and she's likely to pick it up for you. This is not a learned behavior, psychologist Michael Tomasello argues. Through observations of young children in experiments he himself has designed, Tomasello shows that children are naturally—and uniquely—cooperative. Put through similar experiments, for example, apes demonstrate the ability to work together and share, but choose not to. As children grow, their almost reflexive desire to help—without expectation of reward—becomes shaped by culture. They become more aware of being a member of a group. Groups convey mutual expectations, and thus may either encourage or discourage altruism and collaboration. Either way, cooperation emerges as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior. In Why We Cooperate, Tomasello's studies of young children and great apes help identify the underlying psychological processes that very likely supported humans' earliest forms of complex collaboration and, ultimately, our unique forms of cultural organization, from the evolution of tolerance and trust to the creation of such group-level structures as cultural norms and institutions.]

Why We Cooperate should alert us to the imperative of Collective Yoga and Collaboration. Let's learn from young children and great apes. [TNM]

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