Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Savanna Principle in Psychology

The Savanna Principle is usually used to explain physical and tangible actions and considerations the human brain makes today. It states that the brain has difficulty processing information that includes data that would not have been present in an ancestral setting. For example; everyone knows that a banana is yellow, no matter what natural lighting it is seen under, we see it as yellow. Our eye-brain system has evolved to be able to distinguish color in all different natural lights - using information it has recorded to make up for the difference in wavelength. However, look at a banana under a sodium vapor lamp (commonly found in parking lots), and it doesn't look yellow anymore. Humans didn't have sodium vapor lights until very recently.

Can this be applied to psychology? Not only the automatic functioning of our eye-sight but how our mind works? This article uses television as an example; how someone who just watched their favorite show feels just as satisfied with themselves as someone who had just visited their friends. The brain cannot distinguish real human relationships with the ones through the TV, and I can say that would explain a lot about the crazy fan girls / boys who can't seem to get past the fact that "Dr. Dan" or "Miss CleevAhge" are not real, they are fictional. (could also explain why fiction/ TV sells so well).

I'm not sure what to make of it. On one hand, I have plenty of female friends who coo and swoon endlessly over male characters in their favorite shows (something that makes me want to stab myself with my pen repeatedly). "He's so hot" "he's so awesome" "Look at his amazing hair" "he's so nice!" "So smart!--" etc. and so forth, and this article could explain how their brain is having difficulty separating the characters on the screen from relationships they have in real life -even if the person consciously knows it is only a character-.

On the other hand, I have always be rather skeptical of the "this is because of the pre historic era when women were gatherers so that's why they take so long shopping" kind of theories. I just feel there are far too many variables between then and now to be able to accommodate for.

Then again: these are broad sweeping generalizations of things that the entire world would be affected by (IE: no sodium vapor lamps) instead of being culture specific. Technology based, not society based, I suppose.


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