Institut Jean Nicod

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Graphic communication : How minds shape culture


Responsable - Olivier Morin

Public - M1/M2

Durée - 5 mois


Internship in english or french in Social and collective cognition

Our research group studies the evolution of graphic communication, the exchange of information through images — letters, symbols, emblems. We study the cultural history of these visual signs, with quantitative tools informed by evolutionary theory and by cognitive science. Using large-scale datasets assembled from publicly available collections or collected by us, we test predictions concerning changes in the shape of letters, on the information carried by emblems, or on the complexity of symbols. We also investigate the workings of graphic communication in laboratory or online experiments, where participants invent pictorial languages to convey information to each other.

A list of projects is available upon request. They include an attempt to devise a universal morphology of letter shapes through crowdsourcing ; an investigation of the evolution of distinctive shapes in traditional emblems (such as heraldry or cattle branding) ; an exploration of the syntax of a visual language invented by thousands of players in a gaming app of our making. Our group is based in Paris but is collaborating closely with the Minds & Traditions research group at the Max Planck Society.