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  1. Roles of Technical Reasoning, Theory of Mind, Creativity, and Fluid Cognition in Cumulative Technological Culture.Emmanuel De Oliveira, Emanuelle Reynaud & François Osiurak - 2019 - Human Nature 30 (3):326-340.
    Cumulative technological culture can be defined as the progressive diversification, complexification, and enhancement of technological traits through generations. An outstanding issue is to specify the cognitive bases of this phenomenon. Based on the literature, we identified four potential cognitive factors: namely, theory-of-mind, technical-reasoning, creativity, and fluid-cognitive skills. The goal of the present study was to test which of these factors—or a combination thereof—best predicted the cumulative performance in two experimental, micro-society conditions differing in the nature of the interaction allowed between (...)
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  • Four Ways of (Mis-)Conceiving Embodiment in Tool Use.François Osiurak & Giovanni Federico - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3853-3879.
    A broader conception of the user’s perceptual, cognitive, and motor capabilities considers tools as body extensions. By identifying specific tool-related motor-grounded mechanisms, the embodied approach assumes that this “extensional phenomenon” takes place not only at a behavioral level but also at a psychological level. At least four ways of conceiving embodiment in tool use have been offered in relation to the concepts of incorporation, perception, knowledge, and observation. Nevertheless, the validity of these conceptions has been rarely, if not never, assessed. (...)
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  • Mind the Gap: A More Evolutionarily Plausible Role for Technical Reasoning in Cumulative Technological Culture.Ross Pain & Rachael L. Brown - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2467-2489.
    How do technologies that are too complex for any one individual to produce arise and persist in human populations? Contra prevailing views focusing on social learning, Osiurak and Reynaud argue that the primary driver for cumulative technological culture is our ability for technical reasoning. Whilst sympathetic to their overall position, we argue that two specific aspects of their account are implausible: first, that technical reasoning is unique to humans; and second, that technical reasoning is a necessary condition for the production (...)
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  • Preschool Children's Use of Perceptual-Motor Knowledge and Hierarchical Representational Skills for Tool Making.Gökhan Gönül, Annette Hohenberger & Ece Takmaz - 2021 - Acta Psychologica 103415 (220).
    Although other animals can make simple tools, the expanded and complex material culture of humans is unprecedented in the animal kingdom. Tool making is a slow and late-developing ability in humans, and preschool children find making tools to solve problems very challenging. This difficulty in tool making might be related to the lack of familiarity with the tools and may be overcome by children's long term perceptual-motor knowledge. Thus, in this study, the effect of tool familiarity on tool making was (...)
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  • Human Teaching and Cumulative Cultural Evolution.Christine A. Caldwell, Elizabeth Renner & Mark Atkinson - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (4):751-770.
    Although evidence of teaching behaviour has been identified in some nonhuman species, human teaching appears to be unique in terms of both the breadth of contexts within which it is observed, and in its responsiveness to needs of the learner. Similarly, cultural evolution is observable in other species, but human cultural evolution appears strikingly distinct. This has led to speculation that the evolutionary origins of these capacities may be causally linked. Here we provide an overview of contrasting perspectives on the (...)
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  • The Pedagogue, the Engineer, and the Friend.François Osiurak, Caroline Cretel, Naomi Duhau-Marmon, Isabelle Fournier, Lucie Marignier, Emmanuel De Oliveira, Jordan Navarro & Emanuelle Reynaud - 2020 - Human Nature 31 (4):462-482.
    Humans can follow different social learning strategies, sometimes oriented toward the models’ characteristics. The goal of the present study was to explore which who-strategy is preferentially followed in the technological context based on the models’ psychological characteristics. We identified three potential who-strategies: Copy the pedagogue, copy the engineer, and copy the friend. We developed a closed-group micro-society paradigm in which participants had to build the highest possible towers. Participants began with an individual building phase. Then, they were gathered to discuss (...)
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  • Causal Learning in CTC: Adaptive and Collaborative.Netanel Weinstein & Dare Baldwin - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    Osiurak and Reynaud highlight the critical role of technical-reasoning skills in the emergence of human cumulative technological culture, in contrast to previous accounts foregrounding social-reasoning skills as key to CTC. We question their analysis of the available evidence, yet for other reasons applaud the emphasis on causal understanding as central to the adaptive and collaborative dynamics of CTC.
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  • The Elephant in the Room: What Matters Cognitively in Cumulative Technological Culture.François Osiurak & Emanuelle Reynaud - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43:1-57.
    Cumulative technological culture refers to the increase in the efficiency and complexity of tools and techniques in human populations over generations. A fascinating question is to understand the cognitive origins of this phenomenon. Because CTC is definitely a social phenomenon, most accounts have suggested a series of cognitive mechanisms oriented toward the social dimension, thereby minimizing the technical dimension and the potential influence of non-social, cognitive skills. What if we have failed to see the elephant in the room? What if (...)
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  • The Elephant in the China Shop: When Technical Reasoning Meets Cumulative Technological Culture.François Osiurak & Emanuelle Reynaud - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    The commentaries have both revealed the implications of and challenged our approach. In this response, we reply to these concerns, discuss why the technical-reasoning hypothesis does not minimize the role of social-learning mechanisms – nor assume that technical-reasoning skills make individuals omniscient technically – and make suggestions for overcoming the classical opposition between the cultural versus cognitive niche hypothesis of cumulative technological culture.
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