Co-occurrence of ostensive communication and generalizable knowledge in forager storytelling: cross-cultural evidence of teaching in forager societies

Human Nature Vol/Iss. Issue 32 Springer Published In Pages: 279-300
By Sugiyama, Michelle S.


This article examined the presence of ostensive-communicative behaviors in educational storytelling within foraging cultures. Ostensive communication includes prosody and gestures used to direct attention to something or someone. The author analyzed 14 behaviors of ostensive communication and tested whether they co-occur with the transmission of knowledge in storytelling. All 53 forager cultures examined demonstrated the use of 2 or more of those communicative behaviors in oral storytelling. This supports the author’s claim of ostensive-communicative behavior as a universal pedagogical tool in forager cultures.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic Atlas (EA)Other researchers

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