Chapter

Narrative Spaces in the Representation and Understanding of Evolution

Camillia Matuk and David Uttal

in Evolution Challenges

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730421
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949557 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730421.003.0006
Narrative Spaces in the Representation and Understanding of Evolution

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Experts familiar with both their content and representational system use cladograms to reason about species’ phylogenies. But for novices, these diagrams rather tend to cue folk narrative beliefs of evolution. This chapter offers a cognitive semiotic account of common misinterpretations of cladograms. Interview excerpts show how undergraduates map narrative structures of their folk beliefs as metaphors onto the spatial structures of the diagram; how folk beliefs, as well as knowledge of representational systems from other domains, create contexts for mistaken interpretations; and how specific manipulations of the diagram’s presentation (e.g., animation) reveal these interpretations to be flexible. Based on our findings, we describe the design and pedagogical affordances of an interactive diagram to address novices’ narrative intuitions.

Keywords: cognitive semiotics; cladograms; diagrammatic interpretation; folk beliefs; narrative

Chapter.  11079 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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