Social learning and social cognition : The case for pedagogy

  • Csibra G
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We propose that humans are adapted to transfer knowledge to, and receive knowledge from, conspecifics by teaching. This adaptation, which we call 'pedagogy', involves the emergence of a special communication system that does not presuppose either language or high-level theory of mind, but could itself provide a basis facilitating the development of these human-specific abilities both in phylogenetic and ontogenetic terms. We speculate that tool manufacturing and mediated tool use made the evolution of such a new social learning mechanism necessary. However, the main body of evidence supporting this hypothesis comes from developmental psychology. We argue that many central phenomena of human infant social cognition that may seem puzzling in light of their standard functional explanation can be more coherently and plausibly interpreted as reflecting the adaptations to receive knowledge from social partners through teaching.

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  • Gergely Csibra

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