Cognitive anthropology

Cognitive anthropology

Cognitive anthropology is an approach within cultural anthropology in which scholars seek to explain patterns of shared knowledge, cultural innovation, and transmission over time and space using the methods and theories of the cognitive sciences (especially experimental psychology and evolutionary biology) often through close collaboration with historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, linguists, musicologists and other specialists engaged in the description and interpretation of cultural forms. Cognitive anthropology is concerned with what people from different groups know and how that implicit knowledge changes the way people perceive and relate to the world around them.[1]

From a linguistics stand-point, cognitive anthropology uses language as the doorway to study cognition.[2] Its general goal is to break language down to find commonalities in different cultures and the ways people perceive the world.[3] Linguistic study of cognitive anthropology may be broken down into three subfields: semantics, syntactics, pragmatics.

See also



  • Colby, Benjamin; Fernandez, James W.; Kronenfeld, David B. (1981). Toward a convergence of cognitive and symbolic anthropology. New York: Blackwell Publishing. 
  • D’Andrade, R. (1995). The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gomm, Roger (2009). Key concepts in social research methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0230214991. 
  • Quinn, N. (2005). Finding Culture in Talk: A Collection of Methods. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sieck, W. R. (2010). Cultural network analysis: Method and application. In D. Schmorrow & D. Nicholson (Eds.), Advances in Cross-Cultural Decision Making, CRC Press / Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

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