Establishing conventional communication systems: is common knowledge necessary?

Barr, D.J. (2004) Establishing conventional communication systems: is common knowledge necessary? Cognitive Science, 28(6), pp. 937-962. (doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog2806_3)

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How do communities establish shared communication systems? The Common Knowledge view assumes that symbolic conventions develop through the accumulation of common knowledge regarding communication practices among the members of a community. In contrast with this view, it is proposed that coordinated communication emerges a by-product of local interactions among dyads. A set of multi-agent computer simulations show that a population of “egocentric” agents can establish and maintain symbolic conventions without common knowledge. In the simulations, convergence to a single conventional system was most likely and most efficient when agents updated their behavior on the basis of local rather than global, system-level information. The massive feedback and parallelism present in the simulations gave rise to phenomena that are often assumed to result from complex strategic processing on the part of individual agents. The implications of these findings for the development of theories of language use are discussed.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:cognitive_science, common_knowledge, conventions, language_evolution, multiagent
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barr, Dr Dale
Authors: Barr, D.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Cognitive Science
ISSN (Online):1551-6709
Published Online:11 February 2010

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