cultural evolution

Culture without copying or selection

Typical examples of cultural phenomena all exhibit a degree of similarity across time and space at the level of the population. As such, a fundamental question for any science of culture is, what ensures this stability in the first place? Here we …

Cultural transmission bias in the spread of voter fraud conspiracy theories on Twitter during the 2020 US election

During the 2020 US presidential election, conspiracy theories about large-scale voter fraud were widely circulated on social media platforms. Given their scale, persistence, and impact, it is critically important to understand the mechanisms that …

Review of Joseph Henrich, The Weirdest People in the World

From storytelling to Facebook. Content biases when retelling or sharing a story

Cultural evolution researchers use transmission chain experiments to investigate which content is more likely to survive when transmitted from one individual to another. These experiments resemble oral storytelling, where individuals need to …

Beyond social learning

Cultural evolution requires the social transmission of information. For this reason, scholars have emphasized social learning when explaining how and why culture evolves. Yet cultural evolution results from many mechanisms operating in concert. Here, …

Modelling cultural systems and selective filters

A specific goal of the field of cultural evolution is to understand how processes of transmission and selection at the individual level lead to population-wide patterns of cultural diversity and change. Models of cultural evolution have typically …

Social information use and social information waste

Social information is immensely valuable. Yet we waste it. The information we get from observing other humans and from communicating with them is a cheap and reliable informational resource. It is considered the backbone of human cultural evolution. …

Individual-based models of cultural evolution. A step-by-step guide using R

The field of cultural evolution has emerged in the last few decades as a thriving, interdisciplinary effort to understand cultural change and cultural diversity within an evolutionary framework and using evolutionary tools, concepts and methods. …

Cultural Accumulation and Improvement in Online Fan Fiction

We analyse stories in Harry Potter fan fiction published on Archive of Our Own (AO3), using concepts from cultural evolution. In particular, we focus on cumulative cultural evolution, that is, the idea that cultural systems improve with time, drawing …

Ape cultures do not require behavior copying

While culture is widespread in the animal kingdom, human culture has been claimed to be special due to being cumulative. It is currently debated which cognitive abilities support cumulative culture, but behavior copying is one of the main abilities …