Helena Miton, Thomas Wolf, Cordula Vesper, Günther Knoblich, Dan Sperber. (2020) Motor constraints influence cultural evolution of rhythm. Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences. 2020;287(1937):20202001.

Abstract: While widely acknowledged in the cultural evolution literature, ecological factors—aspects of the physical environment that affect the way in which cultural productions evolve—have not been investigated experimentally. Here, we present an experimental investigation of this type of factor by using a transmission chain (iterated learning) experiment. We predicted that differences in the distance between identical tools (drums) and in the order in which they are to be used would cause the evolution of different rhythms…

Helena Miton, Dan Sperber, Mikolaj Hernik (2020) A forward bias in human profile-oriented portraits Cognitive Science 44(2).

Abstract: The spatial composition of human portraits obeys historically changing cultural norms. We show that it is also affected by cognitive factors that cause greater spontaneous attention to what is in front rather in the back of an agent. Scenes with more space in front of a directed object are both more often produced and judged as more aesthetically pleasant. This leads to the prediction that, in profile-oriented human portraits, compositions with more space in front of depicted agents (a “forward bias”) should be over-represented. …

Hugo Mercier, Dan Sperber (2020) Bounded rationality in a social world In Riccardo Viale, ed. Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality.

Abstract: Standard dual process theories see reason (System 2) as an individual cognitive mechanism able to correct the mistake of intuition (System 1) and to perform as classical rational system, imperfect but not bounded in Simon’s sense. This chapter suggests instead that reason is another intuitive cognitive mechanism, with a specific domain—reasons—and specific functions—to produce and evaluate justifications and arguments in social settings…

Dimitrios Kourtis, Pierre Jacob, Natalie Sebanz, Dan Sperber, and Günther Knoblich (2020) Making sense of human interaction benefits from communicative cues Scientific Reports, 18135.

Abstract: We investigated whether communicative cues help observers to make sense of human interaction. We recorded EEG from an observer monitoring two individuals who were occasionally communicating with each other via either mutual eye contact and/or pointing gestures, and then jointly attending to the same object or attending to different objects that were placed on a table in front of them. The analyses were focussed on the processing of the interaction outcome (i.e. presence or absence of joint attention) and showed that its interpretation is a two-stage process, as reflected in the N300 and the N400 potentials…

Dan Sperber (2019) Personal notes on a shared trajectory (Reflections on the development of relevance theory). In Kate Scott, Kate, Billy Clark, and Robyn Carston, eds. Relevance, pragmatics and interpretation. Cambridge University Press, 2019. pp 13-20

“The editors of the volume asked me to provide a broad overview of the beginnings of relevance theory back in the 1970s, how it has developed over the decades and where I see it moving in the future, reflecting in the process on the collective work that Deirdre Wilson and I initiated and that has been joined and considerably enriched by many others. Here are some personal notes to help address these questions…”

Dan Sperber (2019) Instincts or gadgets? Not the debate we should be having (Commentary on Heyes C. (2019) Précis of Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42.

Abstract: I argue, with examples, that most human cognitive skills are neither instincts nor gadgets but mechanisms shaped both by evolved dispositions and by cultural inputs. This shaping can work either through evolved skills fulfilling their function with the help of cultural skills that they contribute to shape, or through cultural skills recruiting evolved skills and adjusting to them.

Hugo Mercier, Dan Sperber (2019) Reply to critics Teorema 38(1)

Replies to four commentaries on The Enigma of Reason (by Salvador Mascarenhas, Ira Noveck, Cathal O’Madagain, and Karolina Prochownik) published in Teorema

Hugo Mercier, Dan Sperber (2019) Précis of The Enigma of Reason Teorema 38(1)

Précis of Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber (2017) The Enigma of Reason (as an introduction of a discussion of the book in Teorema (38)1)

Dan Sperber.& Hugo Mercier (2018). Why a modular approach to reason? (reply to reviews of The Enigma of Reason by Nick Chater and Mike Oaksford, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, and Kim Sterelny). Mind & Language 33:533–541

Abstract: In their reviews [of The Enigma of Reason], Chater and Oaksford, Dutilh Novaes, and Sterelny are critical of our modularist approach to reason. In this response, we clarify our claim that reason is one of many cognitive modules that produce intuitive inferences each in its domain; the reason module producing intuitions about reasons. We argue that in-principle objections to the idea of massive modularity based on Fodor’s peculiar approach are not effective against other interpretations that have led to insightful uses of the notion in psychology and biology. We explain how the reason module evaluates reasons on the basis of their metacognitive properties. We show how the module fulfils a social function, that of producing reasons to justify oneself and convince others and of evaluating the reasons others produce to convince us.