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7 - The Cultural Transmission of Social Information

from Part II - Imitation and Mimicry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 October 2016

Sukhvinder S. Obhi
Affiliation:
McMaster University, Ontario
Emily S. Cross
Affiliation:
Bangor University
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Summary

Abstract

Human groups differ not only in the types of tools and artifacts they produce, but also in the ways in which they interact with and behave around each other. Social learning is key to explaining these differences between human groups. However, to date, research on cultural transmission has focused predominately on how imitation and other forms of social learning enable children to learn about the physical world. While this research has yielded important insights into the nature of the cultural transmission process, the picture it provides is incomplete. Here, inspired by anthropological perspectives, we adopt a broader view of culture and emphasize that a group’s culture is not only composed of the tools and artifacts it produces but also the values, norms, attitudes, opinions and beliefs that it holds dear. Using this broader definition of culture, we review the social psychological literature on how children learn about the social world through copying those around them. We hope this integrative review highlights the importance of the more social aspects of cultural transmission and offers a broader view of human culture that will open up new avenues for future research.

Type
Chapter
Information
Shared Representations
Sensorimotor Foundations of Social Life
, pp. 136 - 150
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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