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Personality, values and culture through an evolutionary lens


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Professor Ron Fischer of Victoria University of Wellington

Will speak on

Personality, values, and culture through an evolutionary lens: Why are we 95% similar and yet so different?

Date: Friday 13 April 2018
Time: 12 noon
Venue: EA527 5th Floor, Easterfield Building


Humans are complex social beings. Curious observers through the ages have noted the often dramatic differences in human behaviour around the world. To understand human behaviour, an integrated perspective is required – one which considers both what we regularly do (our personality traits) and what motivates us (our values). Traits and values have been studied separately in psychology and related disciplines, yet, what we do (our traits) must somehow be related to what we hold dearly (our values). Furthermore, how can we make sense of both the proposed similarities and differences in personality and values that have been reported by travellers, philosophers and more recently in large survey studies? I summarize some key ideas based on an evolutionary driven framework that I recently proposed (Fischer, 2018, Cambridge University Press). In this gene-culture co-evolution model, I try to link brains, genes, economics, climate, social conditions through human development to explain when, where and why we might find differences both between individuals and between cultures. I use some examples that can help people to reflect on who they are and what makes us all so fascinatingly similar, and yet different. But don’t despair, I will ask more questions than I can answer.