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:
Narrative Spaces in the Representation and Understanding of Evolution

Show Summary Details


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

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.