21 found
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  1.  28
    How Traditions Live and Die.Olivier Morin - 2015 - New York: Oxford University Press USA.
    Of all the things we do and say, most will never be repeated or reproduced. Once in a while, however, an idea or a practice generates a chain of transmission that covers more distance through space and time than any individual person ever could. What makes such transmission chains possible? For two centuries, the dominant view was that humans owe their cultural prosperity to their powers of imitation. In this view, modern cultures exist because the people who carry them are (...)
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  2.  29
    Graphic complexity in writing systems.Helena Miton & Olivier Morin - 2021 - Cognition 214 (C):104771.
  3.  17
    Writing, Graphic Codes, and Asynchronous Communication.Olivier Morin, Piers Kelly & James Winters - 2018 - Topics in Cognitive Science 12 (2):727-743.
    We present a theoretical framework bearing on the evolution of written communication. We analyze writing as a special kind of graphic code. Like languages, graphic codes consist of stable, conventional mappings between symbols and meanings, but (unlike spoken or signed languages) their symbols consist of enduring images. This gives them the unique capacity to transmit information in one go across time and space. Yet this capacity usually remains quite unexploited, because most graphic codes are insufficiently informative. They may only be (...)
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  4.  58
    Reasons to be fussy about cultural evolution.Olivier Morin - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (3):447-458.
    This discussion paper responds to two recent articles in Biology and Philosophy that raise similar objections to cultural attraction theory, a research trend in cultural evolution putting special emphasis on the fact that human minds create and transform their culture. Both papers are sympathetic to this idea, yet both also regret a lack of consilience with Boyd, Richerson and Henrich’s models of cultural evolution. I explain why cultural attraction theorists propose a different view on three points of concern for our (...)
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  5.  25
    Cultural Evolution of Precise and Agreed‐Upon Semantic Conventions in a Multiplayer Gaming App.Olivier Morin, Thomas F. Müller, Tiffany Morisseau & James Winters - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (2):e13113.
    The amount of information conveyed by linguistic conventions depends on their precision, yet the codes that humans and other animals use to communicate are quite ambiguous: they may map several vague meanings to the same symbol. How does semantic precision evolve, and what are the constraints that limit it? We address this question using a multiplayer gaming app, where individuals communicate with one another in a scaled-up referential game. Here, the goal is for a sender to use black and white (...)
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  6.  19
    Cultural Evolution of Precise and Agreed‐Upon Semantic Conventions in a Multiplayer Gaming App.Olivier Morin, Thomas F. Müller, Tiffany Morisseau & James Winters - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (2):e13113.
    Cognitive Science, Volume 46, Issue 2, February 2022.
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  7.  42
    Spontaneous Emergence of Legibility in Writing Systems: The Case of Orientation Anisotropy.Olivier Morin - 2018 - Cognitive Science 42 (2):664-677.
    Cultural forms are constrained by cognitive biases, and writing is thought to have evolved to fit basic visual preferences, but little is known about the history and mechanisms of that evolution. Cognitive constraints have been documented for the topology of script features, but not for their orientation. Orientation anisotropy in human vision, as revealed by the oblique effect, suggests that cardinal orientations, being easier to process, should be overrepresented in letters. As this study of 116 scripts shows, the orientation of (...)
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  8.  30
    Did social cognition evolve by cultural group selection?Olivier Morin - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (4):530-539.
    Cognitive gadgets puts forward an ambitious claim: language, mindreading, and imitation evolved by cultural group selection. Defending this claim requires more than Heyes' spirited and effective critique of nativist claims. The latest human “cognitive gadgets,” such as literacy, did not spread through cultural group selection. Why should social cognition be different? The book leaves this question pending. It also makes strong assumptions regarding cultural evolution: it is moved by selection rather than transformation; it relies on high‐fidelity imitation; it requires specific (...)
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  9.  12
    From Context to Code: Information Transfer Constrains the Emergence of Graphic Codes.James Winters & Olivier Morin - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (3):e12722.
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  10.  27
    The Influence of Shared Visual Context on the Successful Emergence of Conventions in a Referential Communication Task.Thomas F. Müller, James Winters & Olivier Morin - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (9).
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  11.  38
    Birth of the cool: a two-centuries decline in emotional expression in Anglophone fiction.Olivier Morin & Alberto Acerbi - 2017 - Cognition and Emotion 31 (8):1663-1675.
    ABSTRACTThe presence of emotional words and content in stories has been shown to enhance a story’s memorability, and its cultural success. Yet, recent cultural trends run in the opposite direction. Using the Google Books corpus, coupled with two metadata-rich corpora of Anglophone fiction books, we show a decrease in emotionality in English-speaking literature starting plausibly in the nineteenth century. We show that this decrease cannot be explained by changes unrelated to emotionality, and that, in our three corpora, the decrease is (...)
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  12.  10
    Zipf’s Law of Abbreviation holds for individual characters across a broad range of writing systems.Alexey Koshevoy, Helena Miton & Olivier Morin - 2023 - Cognition 238 (C):105527.
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  13.  11
    The puzzle of ideography.Olivier Morin - 2023 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46:e233.
    An ideography is a general-purpose code made of pictures that do not encode language, which can be used autonomously – not just as a mnemonic prop – to encode information on a broad range of topics. Why are viable ideographies so hard to find? I contend that self-sufficient graphic codes need to be narrowly specialized. Writing systems are only an apparent exception: At their core, they are notations of a spoken language. Even if they also encode nonlinguistic information, they are (...)
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  14.  81
    The Virtues of Ingenuity: Reasoning and Arguing without Bias.Olivier Morin - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):499-512.
    This paper describes and defends the “virtues of ingenuity”: detachment, lucidity, thoroughness. Philosophers traditionally praise these virtues for their role in the practice of using reasoning to solve problems and gather information. Yet, reasoning has other, no less important uses. Conviction is one of them. A recent revival of rhetoric and argumentative approaches to reasoning (in psychology, philosophy and science studies) has highlighted the virtues of persuasiveness and cast a new light on some of its apparent vices—bad faith, deluded confidence, (...)
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  15.  16
    Is Cooperation a Maladaptive By-product of Social Learning? The Docility Hypothesis Reconsidered.Olivier Morin - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (3):286-295.
    The docility hypothesis holds that human social learning produces genuinely altruistic behaviors as a maladaptive by-product. This article examines five possible sources of such altruistic mistakes. The first two mechanisms, the smoke-detector principle and the cost-accuracy tradeoff, are not specifically linked to social learning. Both predict that it may be adaptive for cooperators to allow some altruistic mistakes to happen, as long as those mistakes are rare and cost little. The other three mechanisms are specific to social learning: Through culture, (...)
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  16.  15
    Puzzling out graphic codes.Olivier Morin - 2023 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46:e260.
    This response takes advantage of the diverse and wide-ranging series of commentaries to clarify some aspects of the target article, and flesh out other aspects. My central point is a plea to take graphic codes seriously as codes, rather than as a kind of visual art or as a byproduct of spoken language; only in this way can the puzzle of ideography be identified and solved. In this perspective, I argue that graphic codes do not derive their expressive power from (...)
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  17.  14
    The disunity of cultural group selection.Olivier Morin - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39.
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  18.  12
    Expectations of Processing Ease, Informativeness, and Accuracy Guide Toddlers’ Processing of Novel Communicative Cues.Marie Aguirre, Mélanie Brun, Olivier Morin, Anne Reboul & Olivier Mascaro - 2023 - Cognitive Science 47 (11):e13373.
    Discovering the meaning of novel communicative cues is challenging and amounts to navigating an unbounded hypothesis space. Several theories posit that this problem can be simplified by relying on positive expectations about the cognitive utility of communicated information. These theories imply that learners should assume that novel communicative cues tend to have low processing costs and high cognitive benefits. We tested this hypothesis in three studies in which toddlers (N = 90) searched for a reward hidden in one of several (...)
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  19.  13
    Three Ways of Misunderstanding the Power of Rules.Olivier Morin - 2013 - In Michael Schmitz, Beatrice Kobow & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), The Background of Social Reality. Springer. pp. 185--199.
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  20.  21
    A Plea for “Shmeasurement” in the Social Sciences.Olivier Morin - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (3):237-245.
    Suspicion of “physics envy” surrounds the standard statistical toolbox used in the empirical sciences, from biology to psychology. Mainstream methods in these fields, various lines of criticism point out, often fall short of the basic requirements of measurement. Quantitative scales are applied to variables that can hardly be treated as measurable magnitudes, like preferences or happiness; hypotheses are tested by comparing data with conventional significance thresholds that hardly mention effect sizes. This article discusses what I call “shmeasurement.” To “shmeasure” is (...)
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  21.  5
    Reverse engineering cash: Coin designs mark out high value differentials and coin sizes track values logarithmically.Barbara Pavlek, James Winters & Olivier Morin - 2020 - Cognition 198 (C):104182.
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