We are proud to host 26 fantastic poster presentations:
1. Gabriel Šaffa1 & Martin Hromada, 1University of Prešov, Slovakia
What was the key innovation allowing for the evolution of hominin-honeyguide mutualism?
The Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator) is the earliest known wild animal mutualist with humans, and likely hominins. Evolution of every mutualism assumes that both species already possess traits enabling them to pool their complementary abilities for mutual benefit. Here we propose that mutualism with honeyguide implies that for the evolution of such relationship, these traits should involve pre-adaptations related to fire. We base this assumption on these two crucial points: (1) hominids are not able to obtain greater quantities of Apis honey without the use of fire as evidenced in chimpanzees, and (2) honeyguides are strongly attracted to human-made fire; this could be an adaptive behavior since they can be stung to death by honeybees.
All three participants, hominins, honeyguide, and honeybees, co-evolved in fire-prone environment. Importantly, even if frequently exposed to natural fire and possessing a cognitive capacity to conceptualize fire, chimpanzees, and other non-human primates, probably do not understand the effect of natural fire (smoke) subduing honeybees. When foraging on the freshly burned landscape, hominins may come to understand there this effect (i.e. subduing of bees). We argue, therefore, understanding that natural fire subdues honeybees might be the key hominin innovation, a necessary precondition that enabled evolution of hominin-honeyguide mutualism.
Recognizing the effect of smoke on honeybees could be closely related to another innovative behavior – intentional manipulation of the natural fire in terms of bringing smouldering twigs to the bee hive. Considering that honey was an important factor in human evolution and that adaptations to fire are needed for the evolution of hominin-honeyguide mutualism, it might be relevant to use this context for investigations of hominin fire behavior.
2. Andres Karjus, Kenny Smith, Simon Kirby, Richard A. Blythe, University of Edinburgh, UK
Innovation in the lexicon: A systematic approach to competition among words
Research on lexical evolution has explored the diffusion and survivability (e.g., Altmann et al 2011) of new lexical items, as well as the competition (e.g., Baxter et al 2009) and change of linguistic items. Computational models of lexical change tend to be highly abstract, while qualitative or small-scale corpus studies on lexical innovation tend to focus on a select few words at a time. This research breaks new ground by approaching the lexicon as a system from a diachronic quantitative angle, grounded in actual diachronic data (from a large corpus of the English language), to study how the introduction of new words affects older words with similar semantic functions. Distributional semantic models from the field of natural language processing are used to construct a diachronically persistent semantic space in order to measure changes in the vicinity of new words across time (cf. Kulordava, Baroni 2011, Hamilton et al 2016 for earlier attempts), while taking into account their frequency (and change thereof), rate of semantic change, and semantic density of their subspace, while controlling for cultural inertia (rise and fall of topics in the corpus that affect the frequencies of related words). Preliminary results show that despite the apparent complexity of the diachronic processes taking place in the lexicon of a language (obviously being not only linguistic but also cultural and social), these factors explain at least some of the variance regarding change in usage frequency and semantics of words in subspaces of the lexicon affected by innovation.
3. Aurélien Frick1, Fabrice Clement, Thibaud Gruber, 1University of Edinburgh, UK
Innovative and overimitative behaviours across cultures: Evidence of a male bias sex effect during overmitation
Past research has shown that children are skilful at acquiring tool-using skills by faithfully copying relevant and irrelevant actions performed by others, while being simultaneously poor at manufacturing new tools when solving simple problems. Here, we presented five to twelve years old French and Serbian children (N = 208) with a bottle containing an inaccessible reward in a bucket and a pipe cleaner as potential tool material. In each culture, few children under ten of age manufactured a hook to retrieve the reward. However, from five onward, the majority succeeded after seeing an adult demonstrating how to make a hook without explicitly modelling the final goal of this action. Additionally, a third of the children replicated the irrelevant action performed with a second object, a string.
These results show that children’s difficulty with innovation but also early capacity for overimitation do not depend on socio-economic background. Strikingly, we document for the first time a gender difference in overimitation across cultures, with boys engaging more in overimitation than girls, a finding that may result from intrinsic differences regarding explorative tool-related behaviours. This gender bias may have strong implications for our understanding of overimitation, and more generally, of how human tool culture evolved.
4. Brendan Barrett1, Susan Perry, Irene Godoy,1University of California, Davis, US:
Older, sociable white-faced monkeys (Cebus capucinus) invent more social behaviors, but younger monkeys innovate more in other contexts
An important extension to our understanding of evolutionary processes has been the discovery of the roles that individual and social learning play in creating recurring phenotypes on which selection can act. Cultural change occurs chiefly through invention of new behavioral variants, combined with social transmission of the novel behaviors to new practitioners. Therefore, understanding what makes some individuals more likely to innovate and/or transmit new behaviors is critical for creating realistic models of culture change. The difficulty in identifying what behaviors qualify as new in wild animal populations has inhibited researchers from understanding the characteristics of behavioral innovations and innovators.
Here we present the findings of a long-term, systematic study of innovation (10 years, 10 groups, 235 individuals) in wild capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) in Lomas Barbudal, Costa Rica. Our new methodology explicitly seeks novel behaviors and requires that behaviors be absent from a group repertoire at least five years in order to qualify as new. Only about 20% of 187 innovations identified were retained in innovators’ individual behavioral repertoires, and 22% were subsequently seen in other group members (perhaps due to social learning). Older, more socially central monkeys were more likely to invent new forms of social interaction, while younger monkeys were more likely to innovate in other behavioral domains (foraging, investigative, self-directed behaviors). Sex and rank had little effect on innovative tendencies. Relative to apes, capuchins devote more of their innovations repertoire to investigative behaviors and to social bonding behaviors and less to foraging and comfort behaviors.
5. Angel V. Jimenez, University of Exeter, UK
The dipherpox controversy: an experimental simulation of the cultural evolution of a vaccine-related controversy
Although vaccines have been enormously successful in controlling infectious diseases, vaccination has often been subjected to controversy. Two of the most well-known controversies are the Pertussis (1974-1986) and MMR (1998 -2005) vaccine controversies. The origin of both controversies was the claims of some parents and some medical experts who were convinced that these vaccines caused dreadful outcomes such as neurological disorders and autism. These controversies were widely covered by the media and had an immediate effect on the rates of vaccination coverage, which, in turn, led to outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The present study simulates the cultural evolution of a vaccine controversy using a transmission chain experimental design. Participants were exposed to opposed views regarding the dipherpox vaccine (a made-up vaccine against a made-up disease), which were held by either a father or a doctor.
The experience-based view held by the father was better transmitted than the medical-based view held by the doctor. Importantly, the transmissibility advantage for the information attributed to the father did not interact with his stand on one side of the controversy (pro-vaccine vs anti-vaccine). Moreover, the exposure to two sides of the vaccine controversy caused a considerable number of participants (41%) with neutral or positive attitudes towards vaccination to decide not to vaccinate.
The findings might have consequences for vaccination campaigns. The results suggest that vaccination campaigns may be more effective by including information about personal experiences with the diseases vaccines prevent.
6. Carsten Bergenholtz1, Oana Vuculescu and Michela Beretta, 1Aarhus University, Denmark
The Ikea-effect in collective problem solving
Individuals in a collective can engage in both individual and social learning to improve their current problem solving performance. While it is often argued that social learning is beneficial, it is still debated whether efficient or inefficient social networks will benefit the collective’s ability to reach an optimal solution the most. Efficient networks facilitate immediate access to the best solutions in the collective, while inefficient networks enable individuals more time to explore new solutions, since the best solution in the collective might not be accessible. In the present paper we address this challenge by developing an agent-based simulation (100 agents in an NK landscape, N of 20) where agents, following recent empirical studies, slightly prioritize individual learning over social learning; what one could call the ‘Ikea effect’. Simulation results show that agents employing such an individual bias more often find the optimal solution, than agents that follow the traditional standard of always copying when a superior solution is available. We find this effect to be stronger in dense networks, vs. in more sparse networks, illustrating how inefficiency is needed at either agency or structural level. Overall, we show how one can optimize collective problem solving not only by tweaking structural properties of the network, but by embodying an empirically informed individual learning bias at the agency level. These simulation findings are to be tested in an online citizen science game at http://www.Scienceathome.org.
7. Charlotte Wilks1, Elizabeth Renner, Eva Rafetseder, Gemma Mackintosh, Christine Caldwell, 1University of Stirling, UK
Children’s use of social information in a Sequential Selection Task
Humans appear to be unique in their ability to accumulate beneficial modifications, over generations of learners, through social transmission: to accumulate culture. This preservation and amendment of beneficial traits results in increased functionality, and has been termed the ratchet effect. This effect has been demonstrated experimentally in adult human participants, but at what age children develop the ability to produce a positive ratchet effect is currently unknown.
We investigate children’s potential for ratcheting by exposing them to social information (provided by a parrot puppet) in a treasure-island themed Sequential Selection Task (SST). Social information will contain different numbers of rewarded and unrewarded selections and this varying amount of information will enable us to examine the potential for ratcheting from the data of individual participants. Following social demonstrations, child participants will be presented with sets of 3 choice stimuli (mini treasure chests) in a sequence of trials. We are interested in children’s ability to remember which stimuli the parrot selected, and to use this information to inform their decision as to which stimuli to choose. We hope to determine if children can build upon the score they see the parrot achieve under the different social presentations, and if memory demands constrain children’s capacity to do so. Data collection is currently ongoing, and our preliminary findings will be reported in this presentation.
8. Emmanuel De Oliveira1, François Osiurak, and Emanuelle Reynaud, 1Université de Lyon, France
The role of stakes and uncertainty in the emergence of innovative process
Human beings use many complex tools for various purposes. This phenomenon is related to cumulative cultural evolution, i.e. the accumulation of improvements in practices, artefacts and knowledge across generations (Tomasello, 1999). The process relies on the relative stability of these traits over time and the capacity to create and select new, useful traits. The question is when and how do individuals decide to engage in innovation versus to copy a trait?
According to Wasielewski (2014), imitation is necessary for cumulative culture
only in an opaque task. We assume that in an uncertain situation marked by high stakes,
individuals tend to copy the manufacture of a tool, rather than creating their own design.
To test this hypothesis, we ran a study in which one hundred participants were asked to
build a basket to carry semolina, with a set of everyday materials. Experimental subjects
were first shown a video demonstrating how a basket could be build. They were divided
into treatment groups in which the quantity of semolina they had to carry and the
information about the demonstration varied. Control subjects had no demonstration.
We found that in an uncertain, important task, subjects were significantly more
inclined to reproduce the same actions as showed in the demonstration, compared to a
condition in which they had to carry a small quantity of semolina and were given
information about the demonstration. In other words, the tendency to innovate grows
with our knowledge about the task to execute and with the decreasing of its stakes.
9. Regine E. Stolarczyk & Miriam Noël Haidle, University of Tübingen, Germany
Opening a door – on the exploitation of innovative concepts in human evolution
The discrimination between quantitative and qualitative differences is a major issue in cultural development: when does an innovation represent a quantum leap?
Capuchins pound stones on stones in aggressive display or in search for nutrients; chimpanzees open nuts on anvils with a hammerstone; at around 3.3 Ma hominins produced stone flakes with passive hammer and bipolar technique and likely used them as cutting tools. At a first glance, the comparison of the use of stone in the percussion activities shows only subtle differences.
Their systematic coding in cognigrams, however, reveals extensions of an ostensibly simple process: the use of different media (aids or tools), the creation of media, the decoupling of media from basic needs/modularization. These extensions represent steps into new rooms; entering a new room requires only a small step in one direction. If the step is not made, the room cannot be explored. Yet, if the step is made, it is not inevitable that the whole room is explored and all elements in it are applied. If the room is crossed, doors to other rooms can be found and entered. Innovations can thus represent quantitative differences – just another small step –, and at the same time make a qualitative difference with new affordances which may be picked up – or not. The beginning of a quantum leap is only one step, its unfolding depends on hundreds of small steps.
10. Josh T. U. Cohen, University of Cambridge, UK
Gender-identities and feminism
Many people have trans gender-identities. In order to be sympathetic to such people, many feminists (e.g. T. Bettcher and B. R. George) hold that we should change traditional cultural practives in order to have a principle of first person authority (FPA) about gender, i.e. we should (at least) treat people as being whichever gender they identify as. However, there is a longstanding tradition in feminism resistant to FPA about gender, which may be characterised as “radical feminism” (e.g. Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffreys, and Rebecca Reilly-Cooper). Such feminists hold that the best way to understand and change the patriarchal cultural system involves recognising the importance of biological sex to female oppression. They advocate defining gender-categories on the basis of biological sex and thus rule out the possibility of respecting non-binary and trans self-identifications. Many conceptualisations of gender which allow for FPA do not allow for understanding female subjugation as being rooted in reproductive biology, as per radical feminism.
I put forward a novel conceptual scheme, radical FPA feminism, in order to bridge the divide between FPA feminist and radical feminist conceptualisations, and develop the system of gender to meet both radical and trans concerns. Radical FPA feminism understands gender-categories as being historically, rather than normatively, related to aspects of biology and gender-practice. Additionally, radical FPA feminism retains the conceptual possibility of grouping people together on the basis of biology or gender-practice, thus allowing for radical feminist theory and praxis. If we are to accept both trans self-identifications and central radical feminist claims, then radical FPA feminism is a useful way of conceptualising gender.
11. Julie Coultas, University of Sussex, UK
Cultural influences on infant development
Innovation can arise as an emergent effect of human social networks. Parental innovative behaviour is potentially influenced by culturally transmitted advice and information. Where do new parents get their information? This is a question about the survival of ideas about parenting and perhaps even an infant’s survival. What do parents sing to their babies? This is a question about the survival or decay of traditional rhymes. In 2011 the CEO of Mumsnet announced that parents currently obtain most of their parenting advice online. Was that true? From 2011 to 2015 we collected questionnaire data at Baby Shows in Birmingham and London. We asked parents where they got their advice when their infants were young. We also asked questions about nursery rhymes. We found that over a quarter of parents did get their information online when their infants were newborn and also six months old. The stated motivation (qualitative interviews) was that parents wanted to see whether other parents had experienced the same problem. Nursery rhymes have also been influenced by the internet, but less so. A favourite nursery rhyme’s popularity is explained by parents in terms of its gestural potential.
This research answers some questions and raises many more: Is the adoption of online information by new parents exponential? Will this have an effect on early infant development? For example, have cultural practices such as laying babies on their backs to sleep (response to SIDS) influenced development in the first year of life? Will nursery rhymes become more diverse now that they are passed on through written (internet) rather than oral traditions?
12. Maria Priestley, University of Southampton, UK
Digital footprints of innovation in the evolution of Web technology
The Web is a modern technological phenomenon that has grown rapidly since its emergence in the 1990s. A particular topic of interest among technical experts in this area is the idea that the history of the Web was marked by discontinuities or turning points that signalled new stages of development. Examples of this include the popular symbolic distinction between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, as well as the distinction between technologies that preceded and came after major socio-economic events such as the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001. Although these timings and suspected causes of large-scale technological change have stimulated insightful discussions, the narratives have thus far been based largely on expert opinions rather than objective empirical evidence. There is a need here for a rigorous theoretical framework and quantitative metrics that can be used to systematically capture how technological novelty on the Web emerged over time, and how the characteristics of these novelties may have reflected changes in cultural evolutionary mechanisms.
To begin addressing these issues, my research seeks to apply concepts from cultural evolution theory to the study of online technological change. Evolutionary processes such as variation, selection and transmission in modern technology can be investigated with the aid of large, well-structured and digitally accessible datasets about inventions. Focusing specifically on longitudinal data from Web-related patent records, I seek to demonstrate some of the opportunities offered by digitised invention data for the study of modern technological evolution.
13. Mark Atkinson1, Kenny Smith, Simon Kirby, 1University of Stirling, UK
Adult learning, innovation, and language simplification
Languages spoken in larger populations are relatively simple. One explanation for this is that larger groups have greater proportions of adult learners, and that these learners introduce simplifications at the level of the individual, which then reduce complexity at language level. We assess this in three experiments. In Experiment 1, we show that individual adult learners trained on a morphologically-complex miniature language introduce innovations which simplify its morphology. In Experiment 2, we explore how these innovations may propagate through subsequent learning. We use the languages produced by the participants of Experiment 1 as input for a second set of learners, manipulating (i) the proportion of their input which is simplified, and (ii) the number of speakers they receive their input from. We find, contrary to expectations, that mixing the input from multiple speakers nullifies the simplifications. In Experiment 3, we consider the innovations which arise from language use as a mechanism for simplification. In interaction between individuals differing in linguistic competence, the speaker of a more complex variant simplifies their language during interaction. We suggest that adult learning is a plausible explanation for languages spoken by more people having simpler morphology, but that accommodation to non-native speakers may be a key linking mechanism.
14. Mikael Puurtinen1 & Stephen Heap, 1University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Group competition boosts innovation and cultural development
Recent evolutionary models of social learning have found that innovation presents a ‘cultural social dilemma’ similar to the evolutionary problem of cooperation. While new, improved solutions to ecological problems benefit everyone in a social group, innovating is often risky and costly in terms of time and resources. Thus, innovation benefits everyone in a group, but the costs of coming up with new solutions are borne individually. Utilizing a new experimental software for social learning studies, we studied how the scale of competition (between individuals vs. between groups) influences innovation and cultural progress, and found that group competition resulted in elevated rate of innovation and cultural progress, compared to a situation where individuals compete against members of their social group.
15. Rebecca O’Connor, University of Bristol, UK
Testing Darwinian effects on human marriages practices: phylogenetic comparative approaches to cultural co-evolution.
Evolutionary theory predicts that parents will invest in ways that benefit offspring. Previous research has shown that in human societies, the form of parental transfers of wealth at marriage may be linked to inclusive fitness benefits (Fortunato et al., 2006; Huber et al., 2011). In polygynous societies, women are in higher demand than men and as such it is much more advantageous for parents to transfer wealth to their sons. The more wives a man can afford to support, the more chance for offspring.
However, in monogamous stratified societies, a son’s reproductive potential is reduced and it may be more favourable for parents to invest in daughters, as dowry can allow marriage into a wealthier family to secure access to resources (Hartung et al., 1982). Partaking in these behaviours is not necessarily a conscious strategy (Hartung et al., 1982), however it is an inadvertent innovation to increase one’s chances of successfully passing on one’s genes. Previous studies of marriage practises and wealth investment strategies have indicated that these two cultural traits co-evolve in Indo-European societies (Fortunato and Mace, 2008). Specifically, that monogamy is a stable state when paired with dowry and polygyny is stable when paired with bridewealth.
This project uses phylogenetic comparative methods to analyse the evolution of marriage and investment traits in three further large language families (Austronesian, Bantu, and Uto-Aztec), to establish if these innovative, coevolutionary relationships hold in a broader sampling of the world’s cultural diversity.
16. Nicola Cutting1, Jackie Chappell, Ian A. Apperly, Sarah R. Beck, 1York St John University
Children’s tool innovation in different social contexts
Children aged 4-to-7 were presented with a task requiring them to innovate a simple hook tool needed to retrieve a bucket from a tall narrow tube (see Beck, Apperly, Chappell, Guthrie & Cutting, 2011). Children were filmed attempting the task either with the experimenter present (Experimenter Present condition), or with the experimenter briefly leaving the room leaving the child unattended (Experimenter Absent condition). Four- to- five- year olds (N = 40) explored more when left alone, evidenced by more entries of materials into the tube apparatus, t (38) = 3.090, p = .004. However, there was no difference in level of successful innovation between the two conditions in these younger children. In contrast, 6- to- 7- year-olds (N = 44) were more successful at innovating the hook tool in the Experimenter Absent condition, χ2 (1, N = 44) = 4.227, p = .040, although success still only reached 70%. Success in this condition could not be explained by children trying more things with the materials. Successful children tended to solve the problem quickly, suggesting that trial-and-error is unlikely to play a role in this particular task.
Children’s looking behaviours during the task were also coded. Children in the Experimenter Absent condition spent more time looking around the room than children in the Experimenter Present condition, t (82) = 4.270, p < .001, but this was not related to successful innovation. Results are discussed with reference to possible audience effects that may add cognitive demands to the task for older children.
17. Clare L. Whalley & Sarah R. Beck, University of Birmingham, UK
Can priming spatial distance improve children’s tool innovation?
According to Construal Level Theory, psychological distance encourages more abstract thought which in turn, is thought to promote creativity. Remarkably, a recent study found that 6- to 9- year old children who received spatial distance priming (SDP), showed enhanced performance on a creativity measure than children who received reverse SDP (Liberman et al, 2012).
In the current series of experiments, we explored whether spatial distance priming could similarly enhance children’s performance on a measure of tool innovation: the Hooks Task. In Study 1, we primed spatial distance by showing 5- to 7- year olds pictures of increasingly distal objects (from their school desk to the Milky Way) or increasingly proximal objects (from the Milky Way to their school desk). Children then either completed the Hooks Task followed by a creativity task adapted from the Tel Aviv Creativity Test (TACT), or the same tasks in the reverse order. For the older children (6- to 7- year-olds) performance on the Hooks task was significantly better in both conditions where they received SDP from proximal to distal than when children received SDP from distal to proximal and proceeded straight to the Hooks Task (condition 3).
In a follow up study, 6- to 7- year olds completed the Hooks task following proximal to distal SDP, distal to proximal SDP or a baseline condition where the same images from the SDP priming task were presented in random order. Children performed significantly better on the Hooks Task in the proximal to distal SDP condition compared to the distal to proximal condition and baseline.
18. Rachel L. Kendal1, Jeremy R. Kendal, Zarja Mursic, Claire Bailey-Ross, Hannah Rudman, Andy Lloyd, Bethan Ross, 1Durham University
Simultaneous study of creativity/innovation and public engagement in Science Centres
Objective: To explore how academics may exploit opportunities offered by Science Centres/Museums for researching creativity/innovation and, simultaneously, engage the public in their science.
Using participatory action research, interdisciplinary academics and Centre for Life (CfL) practitioners designed an ‘Interactive Research Pod’ (website: firstname.lastname@example.org). The pod is a live research exhibit, which records both visitors’ interactions with a task using video, and their ethical consent via a touchscreen. We were interested in understanding social influences on creativity and so invited visitors to engage in a block-building exercise under one of three conditions: asocial learning, social learning or collaboration. Interviews (N=120) at the pod, and control exhibits, were carried out to explore public engagement.
The 5,500+ participants in 8 months demonstrated that sufficient data may be collected easily to counter issues of experimental control. There were differences between learning conditions in a number of creativity measures, and public enthusiasm for, and engagement, in this multipurpose exhibit/interactive research pod.
The interactive research pod enables academics to achieve multiple aims: (1) Publishable research (here, regarding creativity/innovation) of a diverse and large sample, in a real-life context but with some experimental control and little time investment; (2) Societal impact, engaging the public in scientific enquiry and in particular research findings (3) Contribute to the content, and scientific credibility, of Science Centres/Museums.
19. Damien Neadle, University of Birmingham, UK
Evidence of individual reinvention in great apes and its relevance to the question of human culture.
Humans use the products of cumulative culture almost every day; this because most modern human artefacts cannot be reinvented individually, without the required cultural knowledge. Contrast this with the case found in non-human animals; the Zone of Latent Solutions hypothesis (Tennie et al, 2009) suggests that the culture seen in wild animals is more likely the product of individual reinvention, as opposed to social learning. This hypothesis is tested by taking captive individuals, that are naïve to a wild behaviour, and exposing them to the ecological requirements to display this behaviour. Therefore, if an individual performs a behaviour in a way similar to their wild type counterparts this behaviour can be considered a product of individual learning (therefore a latent solution).
This research tested supposed cultural behaviours from wild chimpanzee populations with other species of great ape. This is because it is possible that evolutionarily related groups may share a related Zone of Latent Solutions. Therefore, some species may exhibit behaviours in these tests that do not emerge in wild populations, but are present in other, related, species. For example, it is possible that bonobos share chimpanzee tool use techniques due to their close genetic and environmental similarities. By including modern humans in such comparisons, it becomes possible to infer how early hominids may have behaved.
20. Sam Passmore, University of Bristol, UK
A phylogenetic history of kinship terminologies across the globe
Is it weird to marry your cousin? 23% of the world’s societies not only think it is okay—it is preferred. This is because kin relationships are socially constructed, guided but not defined by genealogical relationships. Despite significant differences in how the ~8,000 human societies think about family, anthropologists suggest that there are less than ten kinship systems.
When innovation is so high in other areas of society, why is there a lack of it in kinship? Two questions can lead us toward an answer: how do kinships systems evolve over time and how accurate are current representations of kinship diversity?
Phylogenetic analysis provides a historical view of kinship diversity across the Austronesian, Bantu & Uto-Aztecan language families. This explores shared ancestry as an explanation for constrained diversity across the globe with ancestral and internal node state estimates. In conjunction with phylogenetic and geographical signal tests we determine whether deep-rooted inheritance can explain observed diversity or if the co-evolution of other social factors influence system use.
Using kin-term data and linguistic distance, kinship systems can be projected into 2 or 3 dimensional spaces. We plot a sample of languages from across the globe into the kinship space, aligned with existing typological theories. This offers insight into the variance surrounding each category of the theory and by linking with ethnographic database we also explore the relationship with social variables such as descent and residence.
21. Stuart K. Watson1, Lisa Reamer, Mary Catherine Mareno, Gillian Val, Rachel A. Harrison, Steven J. Schapiro, Susan P. Lambeth, Andrew Whiten, 1University of St Andrews, UK
Socially transmitted diffusion of novel and innovative behaviours from subordinate chimpanzees
Chimpanzees can be highly innovative, yet in the wild, most novel behaviours do not become group-wide traditions. A bias toward copying dominant individuals has been proposed to explain this, as the majority of novel behaviours originate in low-ranking individuals. Previous experimental work showed, given multiple demonstrators, chimpanzees preferentially copied dominant over subordinate models. In light of this, we investigated whether low-ranking individuals might successfully seed novel behaviours when there are no ‘competing’ models.
In four captive groups, either the alpha male (AM, n=2) or a low-rank (LR, n=2) chimpanzee model learned one method of opening a two-action puzzle-box, before demonstrating this in a group context. This was followed by eight hours of open-access to the puzzle-box. It was found that individuals in the LR, but not AM, groups used the seeded method on their first trial at significantly above chance levels. Individuals in the LR condition also used the seeded method on their first trial significantly more often than those in the AM condition. A network-based diffusion analysis revealed that the best supported statistical models were those in which social transmission occurred only in LR groups. Finally, we report an innovation by a subordinate individual that built cumulatively on existing methods of opening the puzzle-box and was subsequently copied by an alpha male.
These findings illustrate that chimpanzees are motivated to copy novel and innovative behaviours demonstrated by subordinate individuals and that, in some cases, social transmission may be constrained by high-rank demonstrators.
22. Nicola Yuill & Julie Coultas, University of Sussex, UK
Ask the family: factors in the development of conformity in children
Understanding innovation can be informed by the study of its complement, conformity, said to play a central role in the evolution of complex culture in humans. We describe 2 studies with children aged between 5 and 10 years, using Asch-type paradigms, where participants are asked to make perceptual judgements after being shown a unanimous group choosing a wrong answer, to investigate factors influencing ontogeny of conformity.
Children responded to judgements of unambiguous (as in Asch) and ambiguous choices, not just for matters of fact (e.g. line lengths), but also for opinions (preference) and value (deontic choices). In study 1 (N = 122, 5, 7 & 9 years) children conformed more for facts than for opinions from 5 upwards, for adult than for child-originated reference judgements and for same- than opposite-sex peers. Study 2 (N = 51, 7-11 years) investigated the role of sibling relationships in the development of conformity. We compared younger children in 2-child families who had either an older brother or older sister.
Children with older brothers, where relationships are characterised more often by teasing and competition, showed greater independence: they relied on others’ views only for facts and not opinions, whereas those with older sisters used others’ views for both facts and opinions. Questionnaire data suggests greater conformity is associated with sibling relationships that were less distant and more companionable.
We suggest ways that the foundations for conformist behaviour, and independence, develop through interactions within the family and raise questions about how different types of judgements and models might affect social influence.
23. Zarja Muršič1, Jeremy Kendal, Andy Lloyd, Rachel Kendal, 1Durham University
Do instructions squash creativity?
Exploration and creativity arguably underlie innovation. However, we do not fully understand how these traits develop in children. We tested how, the presence or absence of behavioural models and instructions influenced children’s creativity in an informal learning context.
The study took place in the Centre for Life (Newcastle), involving 174 visitors aged 4-12 years. They were asked to build whatever they wanted (3 times) with seven shapeshifting wooden blocks and entered one of three conditions; Instructions (“this is how you move the blocks”), Scaffolding (“how can you move the blocks?”), and No Instructions. Behaviours, such as manipulation (shapeshifting and twisting the block) and exploration (inspecting the affordances without using the changed block in the build) were recorded. We developed two measures of creativity: (i) originality of builds, where adult participants rated the similarity of pairs of builds (comparing builds within the child, within condition and between conditions); (ii) consistency in interpretation, where adults determined how well a build exemplified what a child said they had built. A lack of consistency in the latter measure could indicate creativity in children’s interpretation or an inability to build what intended.
Instructions increased the rates of exploration and manipulation of blocks, compared to the other conditions. The measurements of originality and consistency in interpretation within an individual’s builds showed no differences between conditions, and analyses comparing conditions is underway. We discuss how demonstrating the affordances of the objects promoted exploratory behaviour in the science centre and how this may differ to the classroom context.
24. Alison GWilliams, Eva Reindl & Claudio Tennie, University of Birmingham, UK
Did a puzzlebox identify the social and cognitive processes underlying human Cumulative Culture?
Recent research has attempted to identify the social and cognitive factors that enable the production of cumulative culture, defined as traits that could not be invented by a naïve individual. The ratchet effect describes how socially learnt traits are faithfully preserved until modifications occur, improving efficiency or complexity. Dean, Kendal, Schapiro, Thierry and Laland (2012) investigated the ratchet effect in children with a novel puzzle box. Their findings led them to suggest that high-fidelity social learning and teaching were necessary for the ratchet effect to occur. Dean et al. found that groups of children could solve all three successive stages of the puzzle; however, their study lacked a baseline to test whether children could solve the puzzle individually.
Here, we replicate Dean et al.’s study, testing children (n = 35; 40-59 months) individually, without the opportunity for high-fidelity social learning and teaching. If two or more children solve the full puzzle individually, Dean et al.’s results should be interpreted with caution as, although high-fidelity social learning and teaching might have facilitated the children’s success, our results suggest they were not necessary.
25. Elisa Bandini & Eva Reindl, University of Birmingham, UK
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and human children (Homo sapiens) invent simple tool-use behaviours individually
The Zone of Latent Solutions (ZLS) theory (Tennie, Call, & Tomasello, 2009) provides a theoretical and experimental approach for examining the origins of human and non-human animal behaviours. It presents a parsimonious approach to explain how behaviours first emerge in naïve non-human individuals, arguing that individual rather than social learning is the main driver behind the base techniques of many (if not all) behaviours. These behaviours lie within the ZLS of each species, i.e., any individual – given the appropriate developmental stage and ecology – can ‘re-invent’ them without social learning. Humans also have some behaviours in their ZLS, yet their capacity for high-fidelity social learning extends their cultural repertoire via Cumulative Culture.
To assess which behaviours lie within a species’ ZLS, Latent Solution Tests provide a method for isolating the role of individual and social learning in the emergence of a new behaviour.
Here, we present latent solution tests of tool-use behaviours in humans and chimpanzees. In our human studies, we found several simple and associative tool-use behaviours that children were able to invent without social learning. Similarly, in our chimpanzee studies, several wild behaviours emerged spontaneously primarily through individual learning in naïve, captive individuals.
Our studies have identified a list of tool-use behaviours within the ZLS of chimpanzees and humans, and contribute data to the study of the evolution of tool use in the hominin lineage.
26. Karsten Olsen, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Interaction is more important than language in a cultural transmission task
To study human cultural learning across generations of individuals, previous experimental research has sometimes used transmission chain studies. Most of this research sets out to test the prevailing theoretical consensus that high-fidelity social learning is key to facilitating the accurate and faithful information transfer across generations, which is proposed necessary for human cultural learning. However, the results seem to diverge in terms of demonstrating, or rejecting, a clear advantage for high-fidelity social learning strategies, such as imitation or teaching. In the present study, we adopted a taxonomy of interaction types from cognitive science and applied it to experimental learning conditions, in order to investigate effects of social cognitive mechanisms in a social transmission paradigm.
We used a novel linear transmission chain experiment, designed to contrast orthogonally the relative roles of bidirectional interaction and linguistic communication, in what could be characterized as ‘teaching’ conditions. In other words, we investigated whether the opportunity to use full-blown language, relative to non-verbal communication (such as gestural communication, facial expressions, eye gaze, etc.) that is primary for social transmission – or rather the manner in which interpersonal communication is used (i.e. in bi- or unidirectional interaction). We also included an imitation condition for comparison. Moreover, previous transmission tasks that have been implemented have been inherently motor action-based tasks, i.e. ‘transmitting’ information about how to manually construct spaghetti-towers, bridges, paper airplanes, baskets, etc. In contrast, we posed participants with the problem of the Rubik’s cube task, i.e. a spatial cognition-based task, which involved the transmission of possible computations or sequences of turns (so-called algorithms) for moving particular locations in space. We chose this task to investigate human cultural learning in a context that to a greater extent required cognition in the more classical sense of algorithmic transformations.The study confirmed our hypothesis by showing a significant advantage for bidirectional interaction, relative to unidirectional interaction, both in task performance performance, efficiency, and probability of being successful in a given trial. And using an orthogonal contrast to verbal and non-verbal interaction, the study indicated that the advantage was not mediated by linguistic communication, i.e, the study showed no advantage for full-blown language over non-verbal communication. Importantly, these results did not show that language is not important, but rather that language in unlikely to enhance social coordination or learning if it is not used in it’s primary function; namely, in social interaction between people.