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Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children

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Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies : exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children. / McGuigan, Nicola; Burdett, Emily; Burgess, Vanessa; Dean, Lewis; Lucas, Amanda; Vale, Gillian; Whiten, Andrew.

In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, Vol. 372, No. 1735, 20160425, 05.12.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Harvard

McGuigan, N, Burdett, E, Burgess, V, Dean, L, Lucas, A, Vale, G & Whiten, A 2017, 'Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, vol. 372, no. 1735, 20160425. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0425

APA

McGuigan, N., Burdett, E., Burgess, V., Dean, L., Lucas, A., Vale, G., & Whiten, A. (2017). Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, 372(1735), [20160425]. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0425

Vancouver

McGuigan N, Burdett E, Burgess V, Dean L, Lucas A, Vale G et al. Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 2017 Dec 5;372(1735). 20160425. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0425

Author

McGuigan, Nicola ; Burdett, Emily ; Burgess, Vanessa ; Dean, Lewis ; Lucas, Amanda ; Vale, Gillian ; Whiten, Andrew. / Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies : exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 2017 ; Vol. 372, No. 1735.

Bibtex - Download

@article{09531b52645043f6a0af2eba4d88eefe,
title = "Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children",
abstract = "The experimental study of cumulative culture and the innovations essential to it is a young science, with child studies so rare that the scope of cumulative cultural capacities in childhood remains largely unknown. Here we report a new experimental approach to the inherent complexity of these phenomena. Groups of 3–4-year-old children were presented with an elaborate array of challenges affording the potential cumulative development of a variety of techniques to gain increasingly attractive rewards. In contrast to a prior study, we found evidence for elementary forms of cumulative cultural progress, with inventions of solutions at lower levels spreading to become shared innovations, and some children then building on these to create more advanced but more rewarding innovations. This contrasted with markedly more constrained progress when children worked only by themselves, or if groups faced only the highest-level challenges from the start. Further experiments that introduced higher-level inventions via the inclusion of older children, or that created ecological change, with the easiest habitual solutions no longer possible, encouraged higher levels of cumulative innovation. Our results show children are not merely ‘cultural sponges’, but when acting in groups, display the beginnings of cycles of innovation and observational learning that sustain cumulative progress in problem solving. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Process and pattern in innovations from cells to societies’.",
keywords = "Cultural evolution, Culture, Cumulative culture, Innovation, Social learning, Tool use",
author = "Nicola McGuigan and Emily Burdett and Vanessa Burgess and Lewis Dean and Amanda Lucas and Gillian Vale and Andrew Whiten",
note = "This research was funded by grant ID40128 from the John Templeton Foundation to A.W. and K. Laland.",
year = "2017",
month = "12",
day = "5",
doi = "10.1098/rstb.2016.0425",
language = "English",
volume = "372",
journal = "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences",
issn = "0962-8436",
publisher = "ROYAL SOC",
number = "1735",

}

RIS (suitable for import to EndNote) - Download

TY - JOUR

T1 - Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies

T2 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences

AU - McGuigan, Nicola

AU - Burdett, Emily

AU - Burgess, Vanessa

AU - Dean, Lewis

AU - Lucas, Amanda

AU - Vale, Gillian

AU - Whiten, Andrew

N1 - This research was funded by grant ID40128 from the John Templeton Foundation to A.W. and K. Laland.

PY - 2017/12/5

Y1 - 2017/12/5

N2 - The experimental study of cumulative culture and the innovations essential to it is a young science, with child studies so rare that the scope of cumulative cultural capacities in childhood remains largely unknown. Here we report a new experimental approach to the inherent complexity of these phenomena. Groups of 3–4-year-old children were presented with an elaborate array of challenges affording the potential cumulative development of a variety of techniques to gain increasingly attractive rewards. In contrast to a prior study, we found evidence for elementary forms of cumulative cultural progress, with inventions of solutions at lower levels spreading to become shared innovations, and some children then building on these to create more advanced but more rewarding innovations. This contrasted with markedly more constrained progress when children worked only by themselves, or if groups faced only the highest-level challenges from the start. Further experiments that introduced higher-level inventions via the inclusion of older children, or that created ecological change, with the easiest habitual solutions no longer possible, encouraged higher levels of cumulative innovation. Our results show children are not merely ‘cultural sponges’, but when acting in groups, display the beginnings of cycles of innovation and observational learning that sustain cumulative progress in problem solving. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Process and pattern in innovations from cells to societies’.

AB - The experimental study of cumulative culture and the innovations essential to it is a young science, with child studies so rare that the scope of cumulative cultural capacities in childhood remains largely unknown. Here we report a new experimental approach to the inherent complexity of these phenomena. Groups of 3–4-year-old children were presented with an elaborate array of challenges affording the potential cumulative development of a variety of techniques to gain increasingly attractive rewards. In contrast to a prior study, we found evidence for elementary forms of cumulative cultural progress, with inventions of solutions at lower levels spreading to become shared innovations, and some children then building on these to create more advanced but more rewarding innovations. This contrasted with markedly more constrained progress when children worked only by themselves, or if groups faced only the highest-level challenges from the start. Further experiments that introduced higher-level inventions via the inclusion of older children, or that created ecological change, with the easiest habitual solutions no longer possible, encouraged higher levels of cumulative innovation. Our results show children are not merely ‘cultural sponges’, but when acting in groups, display the beginnings of cycles of innovation and observational learning that sustain cumulative progress in problem solving. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Process and pattern in innovations from cells to societies’.

KW - Cultural evolution

KW - Culture

KW - Cumulative culture

KW - Innovation

KW - Social learning

KW - Tool use

U2 - 10.1098/rstb.2016.0425

DO - 10.1098/rstb.2016.0425

M3 - Article

VL - 372

JO - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences

JF - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences

SN - 0962-8436

IS - 1735

M1 - 20160425

ER -

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ID: 251523255