How to Create Shared Symbols

Nicolas Fay, Bradley Walker, Nik Swoboda, Simon Garrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Citations

Abstract

Human cognition and behavior are dominated by symbol use. This paper examines the social learning strategies that give rise to symbolic communication. Experiment 1 contrasts an individual-level account, based on observational learning and cognitive bias, with an inter-individual account, based on social coordinative learning. Participants played a referential communication game in which they tried to communicate a range of recurring meanings to a partner by drawing, but without using their conventional language. Individual-level learning, via observation and cognitive bias, was sufficient to produce signs that became increasingly effective, efficient, and shared over games. However, breaking a referential precedent eliminated these benefits. The most effective, most efficient, and most shared signs arose when participants could directly interact with their partner, indicating that social coordinative learning is important to the creation of shared symbols. Experiment 2 investigated the contribution of two distinct aspects of social interaction: behavior alignment and concurrent partner feedback. Each played a complementary role in the creation of shared symbols: Behavior alignment primarily drove communication effectiveness, and partner feedback primarily drove the efficiency of the evolved signs. In conclusion, inter-individual social coordinative learning is important to the evolution of effective, efficient, and shared symbols.

LanguageEnglish
Pages241-269
Number of pages29
JournalCognitive Science
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Fingerprint

Learning
Communication
Feedback
Interpersonal Relations
Experiments
Cognition
Language
Observation
Efficiency

Cite this

Fay, N., Walker, B., Swoboda, N., & Garrod, S. (2018). How to Create Shared Symbols. Cognitive Science, 42, 241-269. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12600
Fay, Nicolas ; Walker, Bradley ; Swoboda, Nik ; Garrod, Simon. / How to Create Shared Symbols. In: Cognitive Science. 2018 ; Vol. 42. pp. 241-269.
@article{64d36cff673b4fcfbd97891322461cc4,
title = "How to Create Shared Symbols",
abstract = "Human cognition and behavior are dominated by symbol use. This paper examines the social learning strategies that give rise to symbolic communication. Experiment 1 contrasts an individual-level account, based on observational learning and cognitive bias, with an inter-individual account, based on social coordinative learning. Participants played a referential communication game in which they tried to communicate a range of recurring meanings to a partner by drawing, but without using their conventional language. Individual-level learning, via observation and cognitive bias, was sufficient to produce signs that became increasingly effective, efficient, and shared over games. However, breaking a referential precedent eliminated these benefits. The most effective, most efficient, and most shared signs arose when participants could directly interact with their partner, indicating that social coordinative learning is important to the creation of shared symbols. Experiment 2 investigated the contribution of two distinct aspects of social interaction: behavior alignment and concurrent partner feedback. Each played a complementary role in the creation of shared symbols: Behavior alignment primarily drove communication effectiveness, and partner feedback primarily drove the efficiency of the evolved signs. In conclusion, inter-individual social coordinative learning is important to the evolution of effective, efficient, and shared symbols.",
keywords = "Cultural evolution, Cumulative cultural evolution, Icon, Language evolution, Observational learning, Social coordinative learning, Social interaction, Symbol",
author = "Nicolas Fay and Bradley Walker and Nik Swoboda and Simon Garrod",
year = "2018",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/cogs.12600",
language = "English",
volume = "42",
pages = "241--269",
journal = "Cognitive Science",
issn = "0364-0213",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

Fay, N, Walker, B, Swoboda, N & Garrod, S 2018, 'How to Create Shared Symbols' Cognitive Science, vol. 42, pp. 241-269. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12600

How to Create Shared Symbols. / Fay, Nicolas; Walker, Bradley; Swoboda, Nik; Garrod, Simon.

In: Cognitive Science, Vol. 42, 01.05.2018, p. 241-269.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - How to Create Shared Symbols

AU - Fay, Nicolas

AU - Walker, Bradley

AU - Swoboda, Nik

AU - Garrod, Simon

PY - 2018/5/1

Y1 - 2018/5/1

N2 - Human cognition and behavior are dominated by symbol use. This paper examines the social learning strategies that give rise to symbolic communication. Experiment 1 contrasts an individual-level account, based on observational learning and cognitive bias, with an inter-individual account, based on social coordinative learning. Participants played a referential communication game in which they tried to communicate a range of recurring meanings to a partner by drawing, but without using their conventional language. Individual-level learning, via observation and cognitive bias, was sufficient to produce signs that became increasingly effective, efficient, and shared over games. However, breaking a referential precedent eliminated these benefits. The most effective, most efficient, and most shared signs arose when participants could directly interact with their partner, indicating that social coordinative learning is important to the creation of shared symbols. Experiment 2 investigated the contribution of two distinct aspects of social interaction: behavior alignment and concurrent partner feedback. Each played a complementary role in the creation of shared symbols: Behavior alignment primarily drove communication effectiveness, and partner feedback primarily drove the efficiency of the evolved signs. In conclusion, inter-individual social coordinative learning is important to the evolution of effective, efficient, and shared symbols.

AB - Human cognition and behavior are dominated by symbol use. This paper examines the social learning strategies that give rise to symbolic communication. Experiment 1 contrasts an individual-level account, based on observational learning and cognitive bias, with an inter-individual account, based on social coordinative learning. Participants played a referential communication game in which they tried to communicate a range of recurring meanings to a partner by drawing, but without using their conventional language. Individual-level learning, via observation and cognitive bias, was sufficient to produce signs that became increasingly effective, efficient, and shared over games. However, breaking a referential precedent eliminated these benefits. The most effective, most efficient, and most shared signs arose when participants could directly interact with their partner, indicating that social coordinative learning is important to the creation of shared symbols. Experiment 2 investigated the contribution of two distinct aspects of social interaction: behavior alignment and concurrent partner feedback. Each played a complementary role in the creation of shared symbols: Behavior alignment primarily drove communication effectiveness, and partner feedback primarily drove the efficiency of the evolved signs. In conclusion, inter-individual social coordinative learning is important to the evolution of effective, efficient, and shared symbols.

KW - Cultural evolution

KW - Cumulative cultural evolution

KW - Icon

KW - Language evolution

KW - Observational learning

KW - Social coordinative learning

KW - Social interaction

KW - Symbol

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85046732915&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/cogs.12600

DO - 10.1111/cogs.12600

M3 - Article

VL - 42

SP - 241

EP - 269

JO - Cognitive Science

T2 - Cognitive Science

JF - Cognitive Science

SN - 0364-0213

ER -

Fay N, Walker B, Swoboda N, Garrod S. How to Create Shared Symbols. Cognitive Science. 2018 May 1;42:241-269. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12600