The OStension, Communication And Relevance (OSCAR) group, led by Dan Sperber, was established in 2015, within the framework of the SOMICS project, to study the micro-mechanisms of ostensive communication and their cumulative effects in cultural transmission.
It is a research group focused on closely linking theoretical issues and interdisciplinary empirical research. Its theoretical framework combines Cultural Attraction Theory and Relevance Theory. In its empirical work, it aims at combining experimental method, ethnography, and evolutionary modelling.
According to Cultural Attraction Theory, fidelity in human imitation and communication is rarely if ever sufficient to explain cultural stability. Psychological and ecological factors of attraction must play a crucial role in explaining the evolution of cultural ideas and practices. Among these factors of attraction, mechanisms of relevance-guided ostensive communication (best studied in a combined Relevance Theory and a Natural Pedagogy perspective) play a central part. The group is particularly interested in understanding the role of these and related cognitive mechanisms in cultural transmission and evolution.
The OSCAR group runs a web site: the International Cognition and Culture Institute (cognitionandculture.net) with a scientific blog, webinars, book clubs, and news.