Anyone reading my blogs and articles immediately notices that I think being human is messy…and this is not a bad thing. Humans have amazingly rich lives and ridiculously complex social and evolutionary histories that structure the way we see the world: we are simultaneously biological and cultural. There is no such thing as nature versus nurture: we are naturenurtural.

While a large percentage of researchers (and science writers) give this view a nod, they tend to end up favoring a “nature” (usually dubbed “evolutionary”) or a “nurture” (labeled “culture”) bias when writing about topics close to the public eye/heart. I realize it is usually easier to do things that way, and most of us generally want things explained in reasonably straightforward manners. Unfortunately, simplistic and linear narratives offered up for who we are and why we do what we do are usually wrong.

That is why I am excited by a recent issue of the Review of General Psychology. The articles in the issue have the goal to “analyze popular culture, thereby finding an ample variety of psychological principles and insights into human character.” Generally, I would shudder at this premise as it is often an invitation to do one-dimensional analyses of popular ideas (frequently myths of human nature) and use simplistic selectionist logic to “support” them. However, this is not the case for many of the articles in this volume (some, unfortunately, do fall into that realm). Best of all two of the finest articles touch on some of my favorite pop-topics: horror and sex!

Read more at Psychology Today

Published On: July 13, 2012

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