Cross-Cultural Differences in Core Concepts of Humans as a Biological Species

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
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An intuition that has been identified as a core concept in folkbiological thought (i.e., intuitive notions about the biological world) is the tendency to view humans as one biological species among many. Previous research has shown that in a category-based induction task, children tend to privilege humans as a basis for inferring that multiple species possess similar biological properties, but that culture and experience can affect the development of these anthropocentric tendencies. It has been assumed that anthropocentrism disappears before adulthood, though very little research has been conducted to test this assumption. In the present research, adults studying oriental medicine, western biology, or western psychology completed a category-based induction task as well as a ‘human patient’ task designed to measure cultural differences in concepts of biological processes. The results showed that anthropocentric reasoning still occurs in adulthood and that there are cultural differences in the likelihood to exhibit these tendencies.

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Figures

  • The proportion of participants in each group who projected from human to dog vs. dog to human.
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  • The proportion of participants in each group who projected from human to bee vs. bee to human.
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  • The proportion of participants in each group who projected from dog to bee vs. bee to dog.
    View in gallery
  • The mean proportion of projections to all living things from each base within each participant group.
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