chapter  14
The Evolutionary Social Psychology of Family Violence: Martin Daly and Margo Wilson
Pages 26

Psychological science is in large measure a quest to characterize perceptual and cognitive processes, motives, emotions, and so forth at a level of abstraction that transcends such local particularities as cultural differences and historical influences. This is true regardless of whether one's pet constructs are things like selective attention or self-esteem, social norms or Hebbian cell assemblies. Psychologists are interested in variability, to be sure, but they generally try to account for variability as the contingent outputs of more universal psychological phenomena. If persuaded by the anthropological record that Oedipal conflict occurs in some but not other societies, for example, a psychoanalytic theorist must find a fall-back position that will describe human nature in terms of more universal psychodynamic constructs. If theorists of social cognition were to become convinced that exotic peoples do not indulge in attributions or social comparisons, they too would have to seek a more universal level of abstraction.