Regulatory Traits in Cultural Evolution

Abstract

We call “regulatory traits” those cultural traits that are transmitted through cultural interactions and, at the same time, change individual behaviors directly influencing the outcome of future cultural interactions. The cultural dynamics of some of those traits are studied through simple simulations. In particular, we consider the cultural evolution of traits determining the propensity to copy, the number of potential demonstrators from whom one individual may copy, and conformist ver- sus anti–conformist attitudes. Our results show that regulatory traits generate peculiar dynamics that may explain complex human cultural phenomena. We discuss how the existence and importance of regulatory traits in cultural evolution impact on the analogy between genetic and cultural evolution and therefore on the possibility of using evolutionary biology–inspired models to study human cultural dynamics.

Publication
Acerbi A., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist M. (2012), Regulatory Traits in Cultural Evolution, in Cagnoni, S. et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Italian Workshop on Artificial Life and Evolutionary Computation, University of Parma, pp. 1 – 9
Avatar
Alberto Acerbi

Cultural Evolution / Cognitive Anthropology / Individual-based modelling / Computational Social Science