Shinobu Kitayama University of Michigan
Oct
16
3:00 PM15:00

Shinobu Kitayama University of Michigan

Professor

Talk Title: How culture shapes the mind: A cultural neuroscience perspective

Culture is to humans as water is to fish. This epithet illustrates how important culture is to human adaptation. At the same time, however, it also raises a fundamental question of how culture might achieve this vital function. In the present talk, I argue that culture is composed of various scripted behaviors designed to address core values, such as independence and interdependence. These behavioral scripts are called cultural tasks. As people grow up, they develop their identities by adopting some subset of the tasks available in their culture. They will then repeatedly engage in the selected tasks. This process will eventually yield neural pathways that are optimally attuned to carry out these tasks, with their brains plastically rewired accordingly. These culturally mediated neural changes will enable people to perform their cultural tasks automatically, without conscious monitoring. For them, to act naturally is already to act by their culture’s norms and values. This process of neural rewiring may provide an important basis for both social and biological adaptation. Recent evidence for the plastic change of brain structure through culture will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Kitayama is Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He examines the mutual constitution between culture and mental processes, such as self, cognition, and emotion. His research draws on diverse methods in psychology, neuroscience, genetics, and epigenetics. Currently, he is the editor-in-chief of the flagship journal of his field, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition. He is president-elect of the Association for Psychological Science and a recent recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship and the Humboldt Research Award. This year, he is spending a year at the Russell Sage Foundation as a residential fellow.

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Andy Elliot University of Rochester
Oct
30
3:00 PM15:00

Andy Elliot University of Rochester

Talk Title: TBD

Bio: The primary focus of Dr. Elliot's research is approach and avoidance motivation. Professor Elliot examines the antecedents, consequences, and development of achievement motivation and social motivation. He conducts basic, applied, and cross-cultural research in educational and sport contexts. Professor Elliot's work focuses on the self, motivation, achievement, and social connection.

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Joshua Aronson New York University
Nov
6
3:00 PM15:00

Joshua Aronson New York University

Associate Professor

Talk Title: TBD

Bio: Dr. Aronson is an associate professor of developmental, social, and educational psychology at New York University. Along with professor Jennifer Hill, Joshua directs the Mindful Education Lab, a group of psychologists and neuroscientists dedicated to using research to improve the psychological functioning and learning of children confronted with stress.

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Michael Gill Lehigh University
Nov
20
3:00 PM15:00

Michael Gill Lehigh University

Associate Professor

Talk Title: TBD

Bio: Dr. Gill is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Lehigh University. His research investigates the psychology of blame and punishment, with a particular focus on how to temper people's tendency to respond to wrongdoing in overly harsh, counterproductive ways.

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Matthew Goldberg Yale University
Oct
2
3:00 PM15:00

Matthew Goldberg Yale University

Postdoctoral Associate

Talk Title: Resistance to persuasion and approaches to effective communication

How do people defend their deeply held beliefs? Part one of this talk examines the methods people use to resist persuasion, and how these methods shift depending on how difficult it is to defend the belief. What does belief defense tell us about how to communicate effectively? Part two of the talk uses lessons from part one to examine how to best communicate about controversial issues, including appeals to morality, identity, and social norms.

Bio: Matthew is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. He is an expert in the social psychological subfields of attitudes and persuasion, motivated reasoning, and ideology. His research has focused on defensiveness and the methods by which people defend their beliefs. He has investigated several factors that influence belief defense such as argument quality, perceptions of public opinion, social network agreement, and language complexity. Matthew holds a BA in Psychology from Hofstra University and received his PhD in Psychology in the Basic and Applied Social Psychology program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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