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The Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) is a derogatory term used by psychologists in the school of evolutionary psychology (EP) to describe what they argue was the competing mainstream view of the social sciences developed during the 20th century. The SSSM is generally held to entail that culture is a kind of superorganism, which is absorbed upon the blank slate minds of humans, shaping their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Thinkers in the EP tradition have stated that the SSSM is now out of date and that a genuinely up to date 21st century social science should be based on Darwinian theory.

Sample Quotes

"Instincts do not create customs; customs create instincts, for the putative instincts of human being are always learned and never native." (Ellsworth Faris, 1927, cited in Degler, 1991, p. 84)

"We are forced to conclude that human nature is almost unbelievably malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions." (Margaret Mead, 1935/1963, p. 289)

"Much of what is commonly called 'human nature' is merely culture thrown against a screen of nerves, glands, sense organs, muscles, etc." (Leslie White, 1949, cited in Degler, 1991, p. 209)

Criticisms

Nowadays few people defend the theory of the blank slate. However it has been questioned to what extent the SSSM was really ubiqutious in the 20th century. It has been argued that Evolutionary Psychologists have taken isolated quotes out of context to make the SSSM appear much more popular than it in fact was, in order to create a "straw man". [1]

References

  • Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. 1992. The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Degler, C. N. 1991. In search of human nature: The decline and revival of Darwinism in American social thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Rose, H. 2001. Colonising the Social Sciences? In Rose, H. and Rose, S. (Eds) "Alas Poor Darwin": London, Cape.

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