Metacognitive abilities are considered as a hallmark of advanced human cognition. Existing empirical studies have exclusively focused on populations from Western and industrialized societies. Little is known about young children’s metacognitive abilities in other societal and cultural contexts. Here we tested 4-year-old Yucatec Mayan (a rural native population from Mexico) by adopting a metacognitive task in which children’s explicit assessment of their own knowledge states about the hidden content of a container and their informing judgments (whether or not to inform an ignorant person about the hidden contents of a container) were assessed. Similar to previous studies, we found that Yucatec Mayan children overestimated their knowledge states in the explicit metacognitive task. However, in contrast with studies on Western children, we did not find the facilitating effect of the implicit informing task over the explicit task. These findings suggest that the early development of metacognition combines universal and culture-sensitive features.
In many judicial systems, confessions are a requirement for criminal conviction. Even if confessions are intrinsically convincing, this might not entirely explain why they play such a paramount role. In addition, it has been suggested that confessions owe their importance to their legitimizing role, explaining why they could be required even when other evidence has convinced a judge. But why would confessions be particularly suited to justify verdicts? One possibility is that they can be more easily transmitted from one individual to the next, and thus spread in the population without losing their convincingness. 360 English-speaking participants were asked to evaluate the convincingness of one of three justifications for a verdict, grounded either in a confession, eyewitnesses, or circumstantial evidence, and to pass on that justification to another participant, who performed the same task. Then, 240 English-speaking participants evaluated the convincingness of some of the justifications produced by the first group of participants. Compared to the other justifications, justifications based on confessions lost less of their convincingness in the transmission process (small to medium effect sizes). Modeling pointed to the most common forms the justifications would take as they are transmitted, and results showed that the most common variant of the justification based on a confession was more convincing (small to medium effect sizes).
The reconstruction of hominins’ cognitive evolution has always been a crucial but challenging task. Researchers from various disciplines have tried to approach this issue, among which British archaeologist Steven Mithen’s cathedral model is regarded as one of the earliest and most creative attempts. In this model, he proposed that the Neanderthal’s mind is like a cathedral with disconnected chapels. Specifically, Neanderthals possessed advanced social, natural history, technical, and even linguistic intelligence modules, but the first three modules are isolated from each other, meaning they cannot effectively use the knowledge from one domain to address the issue of another domain. This article challenges his reconstruction of Neanderthals’ cognitive capacities by presenting multiple forms of archaeological evidence bearing on various kinds of cross-domain thinking that has arisen over the past two decades.
One challenge for cognitive, evolutionary and anthropological studies of religion is to offer descriptions and explanatory models of the morphology and functions of supernatural dreaming, and of the religiosity, use of experience, and cultural transmission that are associated with these representations. The anthropological and religious studies literature demonstrates that dreaming, dream experience and narrative are connected with religious ideas and practices in traditional societies. Scholars have even proposed that dreaming is a primary source of religious beliefs and practice (here labelled DPSR theory). Using Barrett’s coding system, we measured a high frequency of minimally counterintuitive dream content among Hindu Nepalese, and we aim to quantify (1) the relation between counterintuitive imagery and reported likelihood to communicate dreams in general and to religious experts, (2) the relation between counterintuitive imagery and reported religiosity, and (3) the proclivity to communicate SA dreams among those who are more or less religious. These aims will then be related to the broader topic of (4) possible explanatory value of DPSR theory, or versions thereof, by framing the issue at the level of cultural transmission, religiosity and credibility of religious dream representations in relation to MCI theory. The article mainly draws upon data from ethnographic research among Hindu Nepalese.
Theory of mind, the theory that humans attribute mental states to others, has become increasingly influential in the Cognitive Science of Religion in recent years, due to several papers which posit that supernatural agents, like gods, demons, and the dead, are accredited greater than normal knowledge and awareness. Using Old Norse mythology and literary accounts of Old Norse religion, supported by archaeological evidence, I examine the extent to which this modern perspective on religious theory of mind is reflected in religious traditions from the Viking Age. I focus especially on the extent to which superperception and superknowledge were attributed to Old Norse supernatural agents and the impact of this on expressions of religion; how the attribution of theory of mind varied with circumstances and the agents to which it was being attributed; and the extent to which features of religious theory of mind common in other societies were present in the historical North. On this basis, I also evaluate the usefulness of Old Norse historiography to Cognitive Science of Religion and vice versa.
In order to think and talk about time, people often use the ego- or time-moving representation. In the ego-moving representation, the self travels through a temporal landscape, leaving past events behind and approaching future events; in the time-moving representation, the self is stationary and temporal events pass by. Several studies contest to the psychological ramifications of these two representations by, inter alia, demonstrating a link between them and event valence. These studies have, however, been limited to English speakers, even though language has been found to affect time representation. The present study therefore replicated Margolies and Crawford’s (2008) experiment on event valence and time representation amongst speakers of Dutch. Unlike Margolies and Crawford (2008), we do not find that positive valence leads to the endorsement of an ego-moving statement. Future studies will need to determine the ways through which language might moderate the relation between event valence and time representation.
The present study addressed two related problems: The status of the concept of the soul in folk psychological conceptualizations across cultures, and the nature of mind-body dualism within Chinese folk psychology. We compared folk intuitions about three concepts – mind, body, and soul – among adults from China (N=257) and Poland (N=225). The questionnaire study comprised of questions about the functional and ontological nature of the three entities. The results show that the mind and soul are conceptualized differently in the two countries: The Chinese appear to think of the soul similarly to how they view the mind (importantly, they still seem to see it as separate from the body), while Poles differentiate it both in ontological and functional respects. The study provides important insights into cross-cultural differences in conceptualizing the soul as well as into the nature of Chinese mind-body dualism.
Research on learning, the structure of attained knowledge, and the use of this competence in performance has repeatedly returned to longstanding proposals about how to better understand proficient use of knowledge and how humans acquire it. The following article takes up an exchange between Chiappe & Gardner (2011) and Barrett & Kurzban (2012) on the concept of modularity, one of these proposals. Despite the disagreements expressed, a careful reading of the contributions shows that they also left us with lines of discussion that will eventually sort out the relevant hypotheses and integrate findings for future research. These lines of work will contribute to a clearer understanding of an updated version of the modularity hypothesis that is also compatible with evolutionary science perspectives on learning. How might the categories of domain-specific and domain-general correspond to the distinction between competence and performance and to that of narrow faculty and broad faculty?
This paper follows the ongoing discussion with philosopher and psychoanalyst Jon Mills (2020) regarding the nature, origin, and essence of the archetype and psyche, in which my approach that incorporates key features of the philosophy of mind is being compared and contrasted with Mills’ onto-phenomenal approach. Both Mills and I come at this question from very different backgrounds, making interdisciplinary work challenging but rewarding. In this paper I will attempt to start from Mills’ foundational position to bridge the two frameworks together.