On Wednesday, 30 September, Dr. Paul Bain from Murdoch University's School of Psychology will present a special social area seminar. His talk is titled "What is human nature? Why should we care?" (abstract below). Hope to see you there!
Abstract: There has been a surge of interest in applying psychological essentialism to social psychological concepts (e.g. social groups), and beliefs about essences have been shown to be consequential (e.g., for group treatment). Researchers interested in what people believe constitutes the human essence have focused on its biological component (e.g., genes). In contrast, I describe work showing that people also believe in "human nature", which exhibits essential features (naturalness, inherence, causality, informativeness). In contrast to a biological essence, however, human nature is seen as alterable, and knowing about this essence is not necessarily the province of scientific experts. I describe structures of people's beliefs about human nature, and the types of characteristics seen as most central to human nature across cultures. I also describe the social consequences of beliefs about human nature for what people find important in their lives, their susceptibility to influence from rhetoric that invokes human nature, and for how attributions of human nature influence the treatment of groups, to show that this component of the human essence deserves broader investigation.