The social construction of the cultural mind: Imitative learning as a mechanism of human pedagogy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

147 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How does cultural knowledge shape the development of human minds and, conversely, what kind of species-specific social-cognitive mechanisms have evolved to support the intergenerational reproduction of cultural knowledge? We critically examine current theories proposing a human-specific drive to identify with and imitate conspecifics as the evolutionary mechanism underlying cultural learning. We summarize new data demonstrating the selective interpretive nature of imitative learning in 14-month-olds and argue that the predictive scope of existing imitative learning models is either too broad or too narrow to account for these findings. We outline our alternative theory of a human-specific adaptation for 'pedagogy', a communicative system of mutual design specialized for the fast and efficient transfer of new and relevant cultural knowledge from knowledgeable to ignorant conspecifics. We show the central role that innately specified ostensive-communicative triggering cues and learner-directed manner of knowledge manifestations play in constraining and guiding selective imitation of relevant cultural knowledge that is both new and cognitively opaque to the naive learner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-481
Number of pages19
JournalInteraction Studies
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Fingerprint

imitative learning
social construction
learning
imitation
human development
Pedagogy
Cultural Knowledge
Social Construction

Keywords

  • Cultural learning
  • Early teleological reasoning
  • Imitative learning
  • Pedagogical stance
  • Social cognitive development
  • Social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction

Cite this

@article{6004b737ca3b44e699174f6391214434,
title = "The social construction of the cultural mind: Imitative learning as a mechanism of human pedagogy",
abstract = "How does cultural knowledge shape the development of human minds and, conversely, what kind of species-specific social-cognitive mechanisms have evolved to support the intergenerational reproduction of cultural knowledge? We critically examine current theories proposing a human-specific drive to identify with and imitate conspecifics as the evolutionary mechanism underlying cultural learning. We summarize new data demonstrating the selective interpretive nature of imitative learning in 14-month-olds and argue that the predictive scope of existing imitative learning models is either too broad or too narrow to account for these findings. We outline our alternative theory of a human-specific adaptation for 'pedagogy', a communicative system of mutual design specialized for the fast and efficient transfer of new and relevant cultural knowledge from knowledgeable to ignorant conspecifics. We show the central role that innately specified ostensive-communicative triggering cues and learner-directed manner of knowledge manifestations play in constraining and guiding selective imitation of relevant cultural knowledge that is both new and cognitively opaque to the naive learner.",
keywords = "Cultural learning, Early teleological reasoning, Imitative learning, Pedagogical stance, Social cognitive development, Social learning",
author = "Gy{\"o}rgy Gergely and Gergely Csibra",
year = "2005",
doi = "10.1075/is.6.3.10ger",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
pages = "463--481",
journal = "Interaction Studies",
issn = "1572-0373",
publisher = "John Benjamins Publishing Company",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The social construction of the cultural mind

T2 - Imitative learning as a mechanism of human pedagogy

AU - Gergely, György

AU - Csibra, Gergely

PY - 2005

Y1 - 2005

N2 - How does cultural knowledge shape the development of human minds and, conversely, what kind of species-specific social-cognitive mechanisms have evolved to support the intergenerational reproduction of cultural knowledge? We critically examine current theories proposing a human-specific drive to identify with and imitate conspecifics as the evolutionary mechanism underlying cultural learning. We summarize new data demonstrating the selective interpretive nature of imitative learning in 14-month-olds and argue that the predictive scope of existing imitative learning models is either too broad or too narrow to account for these findings. We outline our alternative theory of a human-specific adaptation for 'pedagogy', a communicative system of mutual design specialized for the fast and efficient transfer of new and relevant cultural knowledge from knowledgeable to ignorant conspecifics. We show the central role that innately specified ostensive-communicative triggering cues and learner-directed manner of knowledge manifestations play in constraining and guiding selective imitation of relevant cultural knowledge that is both new and cognitively opaque to the naive learner.

AB - How does cultural knowledge shape the development of human minds and, conversely, what kind of species-specific social-cognitive mechanisms have evolved to support the intergenerational reproduction of cultural knowledge? We critically examine current theories proposing a human-specific drive to identify with and imitate conspecifics as the evolutionary mechanism underlying cultural learning. We summarize new data demonstrating the selective interpretive nature of imitative learning in 14-month-olds and argue that the predictive scope of existing imitative learning models is either too broad or too narrow to account for these findings. We outline our alternative theory of a human-specific adaptation for 'pedagogy', a communicative system of mutual design specialized for the fast and efficient transfer of new and relevant cultural knowledge from knowledgeable to ignorant conspecifics. We show the central role that innately specified ostensive-communicative triggering cues and learner-directed manner of knowledge manifestations play in constraining and guiding selective imitation of relevant cultural knowledge that is both new and cognitively opaque to the naive learner.

KW - Cultural learning

KW - Early teleological reasoning

KW - Imitative learning

KW - Pedagogical stance

KW - Social cognitive development

KW - Social learning

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33744491044&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33744491044&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1075/is.6.3.10ger

DO - 10.1075/is.6.3.10ger

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:33744491044

VL - 6

SP - 463

EP - 481

JO - Interaction Studies

JF - Interaction Studies

SN - 1572-0373

IS - 3

ER -