• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of ‘belief’ and ‘desire,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘pain,’ and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.

Gender and Sex
Gender and sex

In what ways are females and males alike and different, and what sorts of sexual activities do they practice?

All folk psychologies identify likenesses and differences between males and females in terms of both sex and gender. Throughout the following discussion, sex is defined by the physiological differences between males and females. The term sexual behavior refers to ways people attempt to satisfy their sexual urges. Gender is defined by the traits attributed to each of the sexes, traits that decree the roles in life considered proper for males and for females. Whereas a person's sex is determined principally—if not entirely—by genetic inheritance, gender is a product of people's opinions. Gender, in effect, is a social construction—an agreement among members of ...

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