Dr Amanda Lucas
Associate Research Fellow
Tremough House MG19
University of Exeter
I am interested in the development of social understanding in infants and young children, and in how this enables us, as humans, to become cultural beings. Now having an infant myself, it is fascinating to see the theory unfolding in practice!
I undertook my PhD with Charlie Lewis at Lancaster University, in which I investigated selective social learning strategies in young children. Such strategies bias the transmission of culture through particular models, according to their particular traits. My experiments explored whether children are sensitive to a model’s age and expertise when deciding whether or not to learn from them.
Following the completion of my PhD I was employed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) on a Scottish Government funded project investigating the factors that drive cultural change, and how these may be harnessed to promote behaviour change for mitigating climate change.
I then moved to the University of St Andrews, where I worked with Andrew Whiten investigating the evolutionary underpinnings of cumulative culture. Here I was involved in exploring the emergence of different cultures of tool use and problem solving strategies using ‘open diffusion’ and ‘transmission chain’ experiments. These studies examined how solutions to problems are invented, socially transmitted and further improved upon, both within groups of children and across experimental ‘generations’.
I took up my position at Exeter University’s Cornwall campus in August 2015.
Broad research specialisms:
Evolutionary and Developmental Perspectives on Cultural Learning
PhD 2013 in Developmental Psychology
Our research group website can be found at: www.culturalminds.co.uk.
Our research aims to identify the special features of human cognition that enable human culture - including our tools, technologies, knowledge and behaviours - to become increasingly complex and efficient. Our experiments aim to compare the emergence of traditions and cumulative culture in adults and children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder.