The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
Current evolutionary and cognitive theories of religion posit that supernatural agent concepts emerge from cognitive systems such as theory of mind and social cognition. Some argue that these concepts evolved to maintain social order by minimizing antisocial behavior. If these theories are correct, then people should process information about supernatural agents’ socially strategic knowledge more quickly than non-strategic knowledge. Furthermore, agents’ knowledge of immoral and uncooperative social behaviors should be especially accessible to people. To examine these hypotheses, we measured response-times (...) to questions about the knowledge attributed to four different agents—God, Santa Claus, a fictional surveillance government, and omniscient but non-interfering aliens—that vary in their omniscience, moral concern, ability to punish, and how supernatural they are. As anticipated, participants respond more quickly to questions about agents’ socially strategic knowledge than non-strategic knowledge, but only when agents are able to punish. (shrink)
Are mechanisms for social attention influenced by culture? Evidence that social attention is triggered automatically by bottom-up gaze cues and is uninfluenced by top-down verbal instructions may suggest it operates in the same way everywhere. Yet considerations from evolutionary and cultural psychology suggest that specific aspects of one's cultural background may have consequence for the way mechanisms for social attention develop and operate. In more interdependent cultures, the scope of social attention may be broader, focusing on more individuals and relations (...) between those individuals. We administered a multi-gaze cueing task requiring participants to fixate a foreground face flanked by background faces and measured shifts in attention using eye tracking. For European Americans, gaze cueing did not depend on the direction of background gaze cues, suggesting foreground gaze alone drives automatic attention shifting; for East Asians, cueing patterns differed depending on whether the foreground cue matched or mismatched background cues, suggesting foreground and background gaze information were integrated. These results demonstrate that cultural background influences the social attention system by shifting it into a narrow or broad mode of operation and, importantly, provides evidence challenging the assumption that mechanisms underlying automatic social attention are necessarily rigid and impenetrable to culture. (shrink)
Religious beliefs, including those about an afterlife and omniscient spiritual beings, vary across cultures. We theorize that such variations may be predictably linked to ecological variations, just as differences in mating strategies covary with resource distribution. Perhaps beliefs in a soul or afterlife are more common when resources are unpredictable, and life is brutal and short.
Atran & Norenzayan (A&N) correctly claim that religion reduces emotions related to existential concerns. Our response adds to their argument by focusing on religious differences in the importance of emotion, and on other emotions that may be involved in religion. We believe that the important differences among religions make it difficult to have one theory to account for all religions.
That an efflorescence of visual art and architecture was a common feature of monastic reform in the Middle Ages has been well documented. Defining the precise nature of the relationship between that art and the reform that stimulated it has been less easy. Why should reform movements engender the production of art? What form does that art and architecture take? And how does it express or reflect the concerns and aims of monastic reformers? This essay will seek to address the (...) last question in particular by examining a cluster of images and texts that are exceptionally clear in their expression of reform ideas. They were produced in Regensburg, in Bavaria, around the year 1000 for the newly reformed nunnery of Niedermünster. An investigation of this evidence not only indicates how art could be an integral feature of monastic reform but also reveals some of the strategies used by reformers to counter opposition. (shrink)
Created at the behest of the abbess Uta, it is not only one of the most beautiful of Ottonian manuscripts but also one of the most complex. The collection of liturgical readings is preceded by four full-page frontispieces illustrating the Hand of God, Uta dedicating the codex to the Virgin and Child, a Crucifixion, and Saint Erhard celebrating Mass. Four evangelist portraits accompany the readings from each Gospel. In this groundbreaking study, Adam Cohen provides comprehensive explications of the codex’s renowned (...) illuminations as well as the first thorough investigation of its historical context. Cohen shows that the lavish miniatures, among the most elaborate pictures of the Middle Ages, use figures, ornaments, Latin tituli, and geometric schemata to fashion visual exegeses of great range and complexity. Through consideration of questions of function, patronage, and program, Cohen also demonstrates that the codex commemorates the abbess Uta’s efforts to reform conventual life and education. _The Uta Codex _will be of interest to scholars of medieval art as well as those exploring questions of women, monastic culture, and intellectual life in the Middle Ages. (shrink)