Cited by Lee Sonogan
Human technology has evolved in an unparalleled way, allowing us to expand across the globe. One fascinating question is, how do we understand the cognitive origins of this phenomenon, which is known as cumulative technological culture (CTC)? The dominant view posits that CTC results from our unique ability to learn from each other. The cultural niche hypothesis even minimizes the involvement of non-social cognitive skills in the emergence of CTC, claiming that technologies can be optimized without us understanding how they work, but simply through the retention of small improvements over generations. Here we conduct a partial replication of the experimental study of Derex et al. (Nature Human Behaviour, 2019) and show that the improvement of a physical system over generations is accompanied by an increased understanding of it. These findings indicate that technical-reasoning skills (non-social cognitive skills) are important in the acquisition, understanding and improvement of technical content—that is, specific to the technological form of cumulative culture—thereby making social learning a salient source of technical inspiration.
Publication: Nature Human Behaviour (Peer-Reviewed Journal)
Pub Date: 8 July 2021 Doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01159-9
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01159-9#citeas (Plenty more sections, figures and references in this paid article)