cultural evolution

Dog Movies Stars and Dog Breed Popularity: A Case Study in Media Influence on Choice

Fashions and fads are important phenomena that influence many individual choices. They are ubiquitous in human societies, and have recently been used as a source of data to test models of cultural dynamics. Although a few statistical regularities …

Biases in cultural transmission shape the turnover of popular traits

The neutral model of cultural evolution, which assumes that copying is unbiased, provides precise predictions regarding frequency distributions of traits and the turnover within a popularity-ranked list. Here we study turnover in ranked lists and …

Books average previous decade of economic misery

For the 20th century since the Depression, we find a strong correlation between a ‘literary misery index’ derived from English language books and a moving average of the previous decade of the annual U.S. economic misery index, which is the sum of …

Regulatory traits: Cultural Influences on Cultural Evolution

We use the term *regulatory traits* to indicate traits that both regulate cultural transmission (e.g., from whom to learn) and are themselves culturally transmitted. In the first part of this contribution we study the dynamics of some of these traits …

Robustness of emotion extraction from 20th century English books

In this paper, we test the robustness of emotion extraction from English language books published in the 20th century. Our analysis is performed on a sample of the 8 million digitized books available in the Google Books Ngram corpus by applying three …

Fashion vs. Function in Cultural Evolution: The Case of Dog Breed Popularity

We investigate the relationship between characteristics of dog breeds and their popularity between years 1926 and 2005. We consider breed health, longevity, and behavioral qualities such as aggressiveness, trainability, and fearfulness. We show that …

The expression of emotions in 20th century books

We report here trends in the usage of “mood” words, that is, words carrying emotional content, in 20th century English language books, using the data set provided by Google that includes word frequencies in roughly 4% of all books published up to the …

Old and Young Individuals’ Role in Cultural Change

We explore the impact of age on cultural change through simulations of cultural evolution. Our simulations show that common observations about the relationship between old and young naturally emerge from repeated cultural learning. In particular, …

Behavioral constraints and the evolution of faithful social learning

Behavioral “traditions”, i.e. behavioral patterns that are acquired with the aid of social learning and that are relatively stable in a group, have been observed in several species. Recently, however, it has been questioned whether non-human social …

The Logic of Fashion Cycles

Many cultural traits exhibit volatile dynamics, commonly dubbed fashions or fads. Here we show that realistic fashion-like dynamics emerge spontaneously if individuals can copy others' preferences for cultural traits as well as traits themselves. We …