Anne Sibilsky – Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany

 Social Learning and Cultural Diversity in Vanuatu

 Tuesday, September 11, 5.30pm 


Anne Sibilsky – Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany

Vanuatu has an extraordinarily rich cultural diversity, which is embodied by its Kastom and taken care of by its population. We are interested in how the way people learn from others may have a crucial influence on the maintenance of similarities within cultural groups and differences between cultural groups. Psychologists tend to think about this question by studying the social transmission of information using experiments. 

Because children are the members of society who have been least exposed to external influences and who are the crucial persons to carry culture to the next generation, my PhD is focussing on how children learn socially. In various playful studies with Ni-Vanuatu children we are investigating what psychologists call "learning biases" to help understand patterns of cultural diversity. 

In the talk, I will give an overview of our project in which we a) collected data on social learning in 5 primary schools on Efate and b) conducted ethnographic interviews with parents to deepen our understanding of village characteristics. 


Anne Sibilsky studied psychology in Germany and is working on her PhD at the Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany. As part of the Max-Planck project “Vanuatu Languages and Lifeways”, she has been working since 2016 at several places on Efate, namely Epau, Taloa (Nguna), Mele, Natapao (Lelepa), Eratap, Freswota (Port Vila) and Tassiriki (Moso).