Social Learning across Cultures: Universality and Cultural Variability Open Access

MacGillivray, Tanya Lynn (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7h149q854?locale=en
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Abstract

The propensity for humans to transmit culture, skills, knowledge and information is unmatched in other species. Social learning mechanisms such as teaching and imitation have been investigated and various theoretical perspectives exist. Recently, a theory known as Natural Pedagogy suggests that the human capacity to transmit culture rests on a non-verbal communicative mechanism enabling humans to teach, or draw attention to relevant features during skill transmission. This theory has been refuted by ethnographic reports of an absence of teaching in many societies. I examined three different aspects of non-verbal social learning across cultures. First, I collected structured naturalistic observations of mother-infant face-to-face interactions across cultures, specifically examining non-verbal behaviors in three societies, Fiji, Kenya and US for evidence of contingent responding and affect mirroring. I report evidence for cross cultural universality in maternal responsiveness and affect mirroring, with cultural variations in the magnitude of affect mirroring. The frequency of these behaviors was low across all sites and implications for these findings are discussed. Next, I analyzed and compared acoustic properties of speech samples directed toward an infant and an adult in a non-western sample (Fiji and Kenya) and a western sample (US). I report the first acoustic evidence for the universality in infant directed speech. Age and education were significant predictors of the degree to which mothers modified their speech. Last, I examined the propensity to teach in six societies. I report the first universal evidence of non-verbal pedagogical signals across cultures. Implications regarding the Natural Pedagogy theory as well as current perspectives on the function of maternal responsiveness and affect mirroring in early caregiver-infant interactions are discussed.

Table of Contents



Table of Contents

General Introduction ..................................................................................... 1
References ................................................................................................. 17
Manuscript 1: Universals in Mother-Infant Interactions across Cultures .................. 24
Abstract .................................................................................................... 25
Introduction ............................................................................................... 27
Method ...................................................................................................... 39
Results ...................................................................................................... 44
Discussion .................................................................................................. 50
References ................................................................................................. 59
Tables and Figures ........................................................................................ 67
Appendix ..................................................................................................... 70
Manuscript 2: Infant Directed Speech in Three Cultures: Evidence for Universals........ 73
Abstract ...................................................................................................... 74
Introduction ................................................................................................. 76
Method ....................................................................................................... 91
Results ........................................................................................................ 97
Discussion .................................................................................................... 99
References .................................................................................................. 106
Tables and Figures ........................................................................................ 111
Appendix ..................................................................................................... 115
Manuscript 3: Pedagogy in Six Cultures: Evidence for Universals ............................ 116
Abstract ..................................................................................................... 117
Introduction ................................................................................................ 118
Method ....................................................................................................... 131
Results ........................................................................................................ 142
Discussion .................................................................................................... 147
References ................................................................................................... 156
Tables and Figures ......................................................................................... 163
Appendix ...................................................................................................... 169
General Discussion .......................................................................................... 177
References .................................................................................................... 184



List of Tables and Figures
Page

Mother-Infant Table 1.0……………………………………………..……………...…67
Mother-Infant Figure 1.0………………………………………….………………..…68
Mother-Infant Figure 2.0..……………………………………….……...……....…69
Infant Directed Speech Table 1.0………………………………………………..111
Infant Directed Speech Figure 1.0……………………………………………...112
Infant Directed Speech Figure 2.0……………………………………………...112
Infant Directed Speech Figure 3.0……………………………………………...113
Infant Directed Speech Figure 4.0. …………………………………………...114
Infant Directed Speech Figure 5.0. …………………………………………...114
Infant Directed Speech Figure 6.0. ……………………….…………….…...114
Infant Directed Speech Figure 7.0. ……………………….………………....114
Infant Directed Speech Figure 8.0. ………………………..………………...114
Pedagogy Table 1.0………………………...…………………………………………..163
Pedagogy Table 2.0………………………...…………………………………………..164
Pedagogy Table 3.0………………………...…………………………………………..165
Pedagogy Figure 1.0………………………...………..……………………………...166
Pedagogy Figure 2.0…..…………………...………………………………………...166
Pedagogy Figure 3.0…..…………………...………………………………………...167
Pedagogy Figure 4.0………………………...………………………………………….167
Pedagogy Figure 5.0………………………...………………………………………….168
Pedagogy Figure 6.0………………………...………………………………………….168

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