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    Natural pedagogy as evolutionary adaptation

    Csibra, Gergely and Gergely, G. (2011) Natural pedagogy as evolutionary adaptation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366 , pp. 1149-1157. ISSN 1471-2970.

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    Abstract

    We propose that the cognitive mechanisms that enable the transmission of cultural knowledge by communication between individuals constitute a system of ‘natural pedagogy’ in humans, and rep- resent an evolutionary adaptation along the hominin lineage. We discuss three kinds of arguments that support this hypothesis. First, natural pedagogy is likely to be human-specific: while social learning and communication are both widespread in non-human animals, we know of no example of social learning by communication in any other species apart from humans. Second, natural pedagogy is universal: despite the huge variability in child-rearing practices, all human cultures rely on communication to transmit to novices a variety of different types of cultural knowledge, including information about artefact kinds, conventional behaviours, arbitrary referen- tial symbols, cognitively opaque skills and know-how embedded in means-end actions. Third, the data available on early hominin technological culture are more compatible with the assumption that natural pedagogy was an independently selected adaptive cognitive system than considering it as a by-product of some other human-specific adaptation, such as language. By providing a quali- tatively new type of social learning mechanism, natural pedagogy is not only the product but also one of the sources of the rich cultural heritage of our species.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Gergely Csibra
    Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2012 12:43
    Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 11:12
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5389

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