Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 6 of 6 items for

  • Author or Editor: Scott Atran x
  • Search level: All x
Clear All
In: Social Brain Matters
In: Social Brain Matters
Author:

Abstract

Afghanistan is not like Iraq. What may work well in Iraq, or elsewhere, may not be a wise policy in Afghanistan. The original alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was largely one of convenience between a poverty-stricken national movement and a transnational cause that brought material help. Unlike Al-Qaeda, the Taliban are interested in their homeland, not ours. The Taliban know how costly keeping Qaeda can be. Even if the Taliban took control of Afghanistan it is not clear that Al-Qaeda would be welcome again. Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan must be dealt with on their own terms. There’s a good chance that enough of the factions in the Taliban coalition would decide for themselves to disinvite their troublesome guest if we contained them by maintaining pressure without trying to subdue them or hold their territory, intervening only when we see movement to help Al-Qaeda or act beyond the region. We’re winning against Al-Qaeda and its kin in places where anti-terrorism efforts are local and built on an understanding that the ties binding terrorist networks today are more cultural and familial than political or ideological.

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

Abstract

Experimental results in reference to Brazilian children and adults are presented in the context of current discussions about essentialism and folkbiology. Using an adoption paradigm, we replicate the basic findings of a previous article in this journal concerning the early emergence in children of a birth-parent bias (Atran et al. 2001). This cognitive bias supports the claim that causal essentialism cross-culturally constrains the reasoning about the origin, development and maintenance of the characteristics and identity of living kinds. We also report some intriguing differences with earlier findings that speak to theoretical and methodological issues of cultural relativity.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Authors: and

Abstract

We investigated the influence of humiliation on inter-group conflict in three studies of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. We demonstrate that experienced humiliation produces an inertia effect; a tendency towards inaction that suppresses rebellious or violent action but which paradoxically also suppresses support for acts of inter-group compromise. In Study 1, Palestinians who felt more humiliated by the Israeli occupation were less likely to support suicide attacks against Israelis. In Study 2, priming Palestinians with a humiliating experience caused fewer expressions of joy when subsequently hearing about suicide attacks. In Study 3, Palestinians who felt more humiliated by peace deals were less likely to support those deals, while Israeli symbolic compromises that decreased feelings of humiliation increased support for the same deals. While the experience of humiliation does not seem to contribute to political violence, it does seem to suppress support for conflict resolution.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

Nearly all psychological research on basic cognitive processes of category formation and reasoning uses sample populations associated with large research institutions in technologically-advanced societies. Lopsided attention to a select participant pool risks biasing interpretation, no matter how large the sample or how statistically reliable the results. The experiments in this article address this limitation. Earlier research with urban-USA children suggests that biological concepts are (1) thoroughly enmeshed with their notions of naive psychology, and (2) strikingly human-centered. Thus, if children are to develop a causally appropriate model of biology, in which humans are seen as simply one animal among many, they must undergo fundamental conceptual change. Such change supposedly occurs between 7 and 10 years of age, when the human-centered view is discarded. The experiments reported here with Yukatek Maya speakers challenge the empirical generality and theoretical importance of these claims. Part 1 shows that young Maya children do not anthropocentrically interpret the biological world. The anthropocentric bias of American children appears to owe to a lack of cultural familiarity with non-human biological kinds, not to initial causal understanding of folkbiology as such. Part 2 shows that by age of 4-5 (the earliest age tested in this regard) Yukatek Maya children employ a concept of innate species potential or underlying essence much as urban American children seem to, namely, as an inferential framework for understanding the affiliation of an organism to a biological species, and for projecting known and unknown biological properties to organisms in the face of uncertainty. Together, these experiments indicate that folkpsychology cannot be the initial source of folkbiology. They also underscore the possibility of a species-wide and domain-specific basis for acquiring knowledge about the living world that is constrained and modified but not caused or created by prior non-biological thinking and subsequent cultural experience.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture