Active Cultural Transmission: Exploring the role of pedagogy in transmission and learning


Human social learning is a foundational component of culture. From observing and replicating the behaviours of others we can build on and develop what others have done before to generate new and innovative cultural artefacts. This process of cultural transmission has been studied in laboratory settings for some time. However, this literature has often treated transmission events as indivisible units rather than as joint actions, focussing only on imitation or emulation of single behaviour episodes transmitted in a purely passive way. We present an experiment that aims to bridge the literatures of cultural transmission and joint action, by testing the effect that a pedagogical transmission context (Demonstration) has on learning a musical sequence, compared with a non-pedagogical context (Performance). Models adapt their behaviour during Demonstrations using kinematic modulations associated with pedagogy (slowing down, exaggerating movements) that are observed by a learner but not intended to be replicated. We show that with more sophisticated measures of actions during learning and teaching we can go beyond judging transmission episodes on how similar a reproduction is to a model, and instead look at how communicative and pragmatic signals in the model are received and integrated.

Jul 13, 2019 11:00 AM
Casa Paganini, Genoa, Italy
James W.A. Strachan
James W.A. Strachan
Humboldt Fellow
he/him 🏳️‍🌈