cultural evolution

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 …

Cultural evolution in the digital age

From emails to social media, from instant messaging to political memes, the way we produce and transmit culture is radically changing. Understanding the consequences of the massive diffusion of digital media is of the utmost importance, both from the …

Cultural evolution of emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics

Popular music offers a rich source of data that provides insights into long-term cultural evolutionary dynamics. One major trend in popular music, as well as other cultural products such as literary fiction, is an increase over time in negatively …