Thinking in Societies and Cultures

Tage S. Rai

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Thinking in Societies and Cultures

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  • Cognitive Psychology
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Rather than focusing on cross-cultural differences in cognition, this chapter focuses on how being born into and living in any large sociocultural group is deeply intertwined with thinking. I begin by discussing the ways in which thinking in societies and cultures is heavily distributed across people, time, and technology. This selective review focuses primarily on research on distributed and extended cognition, social and transactive memory, and cognitive anthropology and cultural transmission. The second part of the chapter addresses the question of whether cultural evolution is linked to cognitive evolution in humans. In particular, I will ask to what extent our minds are predisposed to acquire knowledge relevant for succeeding in culture, and how this possibility changes our view of the role of culture in cognition. I will conclude the chapter by proposing a division between micropsychological and macropsychological levels of analysis in psychology, and I will suggest research questions that this perspective is uniquely suited to address.

Keywords: macropsychology; distributed cognition; cognitive anthropology; cultural transmission; cultural evolution; social biases; social learning; enculturation; group psychology; social media

Article.  10652 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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