Skip to main content Accessibility help

Much to learn about teaching: Reconciling form, function, phylogeny, and development

  • Michelle Ann Kline (a1)


The collection of commentaries expands an already extensive field of research on teaching, and contributes new questions, techniques, and strengths to the evolutionary approach proposed in the target article. In my response, I show how reconciling multiple levels of explanation – mechanistic, ontogenetic, phylogenetic, and functional – enables researchers to build a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of teaching in humans and other animals.



Hide All
Andrews, P. W., Gangestad, S. W. & Matthews, D. (2002) Adaptationism – how to carry out an exaptationist program. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25(4):489–53.
Barrett, H. C. (2006) Development as the target of evolution: A computational approach to developmental systems. In: The evolution of mind: Fundamental questions and controversies, ed. Gangestad, S. & Simpson, J., pp. 186–92. Guilford Press.
Barrett, H. C. (2014) The shape of thought: How mental adaptations evolve. Oxford University Press.
Barrett, H. C. & Broesch, J. (2012) Prepared social learning about dangerous animals in children. Evolution and Human Behavior 33(5):499508. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.01.003.
Bliege-Bird, R. & Bird, D. W. (2002) Constraints of knowing or constraints of growing?: Fishing and collecting by the children of Mer. Human Nature 13:239–67.
Boyd, R., Richerson, P. J. & Henrich, J. (2011) The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation. [Colloquium Paper]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 108(Suppl. 2):10918–25. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100290108.
Caro, T. M. & Hauser, M. D. (1992) Is there teaching in nonhuman animals? The Quarterly Review of Biology 67(2):151–74. Available at:
Cosmides, L., Barrett, H. C. & Tooby, J. (2010) Colloquium paper: Adaptive specializations, social exchange, and the evolution of human intelligence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(Suppl. 2):9007–14. doi:10.1073/pnas.0914623107.
Gervais, M. & Wilson, D. S. (2005) The evolution and functions of laughter and humor: A synthetic approach. The Quarterly Review of Biology 80(4):395430.
Gould, S. J. & Vrba, E. S. (1982) Exaptation – A missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology 8:415.
Hewlett, B. S., Fouts, H. N., Boyette, A. H. & Hewlett, B. L. (2011) Social learning among Congo Basin hunter-gatherers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366:1168–78. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0373.
Heyes, C. M. (1994) Social learning in animals: Categories and mechanisms. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 69(2):207231.
Heyes, C. M. (2012a) Grist and mills: On the cultural origins of cultural learning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367:2181–91.
Hoppitt, W. J. E., Brown, G. R., Kendal, R., Rendell, L., Thornton, A., Webster, M. M. & Laland, K. N. (2008) Lessons from animal teaching. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23(9):486–93. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2008.05.008.
Jablonka, E. & Lamb, M. J. (2014) Evolution in four dimensions, 2nd edition. MIT Press.
Kline, M. A. (2013) Cultural transmission in the real world: A quantitative study of teaching an cultural learning in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California Los Angeles. Available at:
Kline, M. A. & Boyd, R. (2010) Population size predicts technological complexity in Oceania. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277:117. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0452.
Kline, M. A., Boyd, R. & Henrich, J. (2013) Teaching and the life history of cultural transmission in Fijian villages. Human Nature 24(4):351–74. doi: 10.1007/s12110-013-9180-1.
Lancy, D. F. (2008) The anthropology of childhood. Cambridge University Press.
Powell, A., Shennan, S. & Thomas, M. G. (2009) Late Pleistocene demography and the appearance of modern human behavior. Science 324(5932):1298–301. doi:10.1126/science.1170165.
Smith, M. A. (1998) The limitations of inference in archaeology. In: Maritime archaeology, ed. Babits, L. E. & Van Tilburg, H., pp. 167–74. Springer US.
Sperber, D., Clément, F., Heintz, C., Mascaro, O., Mercier, H., Origgi, G. & Wilson, D. (2010) Epistemic vigilance. Mind and Language 25(4):359–93.
Thornton, A. & Raihani, N. (2008) The evolution of teaching. Animal Behaviour 75(6):1823–36. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.12.014
Tinbergen, N. (1963) On aims and methods of ethology. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 20(4):410–33.
Watson-Gegeo, K. A. & White, G. M. (1990) Disentangling: Conflict discourse in Pacific societies. Stanford University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed