cultural evolution | Alberto Acerbi

cultural evolution

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. …

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 …

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 …

Why people die in novels: Testing the ordeal simulation hypothesis

What is fiction about, and what is it good for? An influential family of theories sees fiction as rooted in adaptive simulation mechanisms. In this view, our propensity to create and enjoy narrative fictions was selected and maintained due to the …

Cognitive attraction and online misinformation

The spread of online misinformation has gained mainstream attention in recent years. This paper approaches this phenomenon from a cultural evolution and cognitive anthropology perspective, focusing on the idea that some cultural traits can be …

Copy-the-majority of instances or individuals? Two approaches to the majority and their consequences for conformist decision-making

Cultural evolution is the product of the psychological mechanisms that underlie individual decision making. One commonly studied learning mechanism is a disproportionate preference for majority opinions, known as conformist transmission. While most …

Did Einstein really say that? Testing content versus context in the cultural selection of quotations

We experimentally investigated the influence of context-based biases, such as prestige and popularity, on the preferences for quotations. Participants were presented with random quotes associated to famous or unknown authors (experiment one), or with …