Despite the recognized importance of cultural diversity in understanding the modern world, the emerging science of cognitive psychology has relied far more on experimental psychology, neurobiology, and computer science than on cultural anthropology for its models of how we think. In this exciting new book, anthropologist Bradd Shore has created the first study linking multi-culturalism to cognitive psychology, exploring the complex relationship between culture in public institutions and in mental representations. In so doing, he answers in a completely new way the age old question of whether humans are basically the same psychologically, independent of cultures, or basically diverse because of cultural differences. The first half of the book emphasizes cultural models, from Australian Aboriginal rituals and Samoan comedy skits, to more familiar terrain, including a study of baseball as a cultural model for Americans. Along the way, the author sheds new and novel light on many familiar institutions, from educational curricula and shopping malls to modular furniture and cyberpunk fiction. These observations are then linked to theoretical developments in linguistics, semiotics, and neuroscience, creating a bold new approach to understanding the role of culture in everyday meaning making. The author argues that culture must be considered an intrinsic component of the human mind to a degree that most psychologists and even many anthropologists have not recognized. This new position of cultural models will make absorbing reading for psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, and philosophers, and to anyone interested in the issues of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, or cognitive science in general.
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