transmission biases

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 …

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 …

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 …

Reply to ‘Sigmoidal Acquisition Curves are Good Indicators of Conformist Transmission’

In the Smaldino et al. study ‘Sigmoidal Acquisition Curves are Good Indicators of Conformist Transmission’, our original findings regarding the conditional validity of using population-level sigmoidal acquisition curves as means to evidence …

Folk-economic beliefs as “evidential fiction”: Putting the economic public discourse back on track

Folk-economic beliefs may be regarded as “evidential fictions” that exploit the natural tendency of human cognition to organize itself in narrative form. Narrative counter-arguments are likely more effective than logical debunking. The challenge is …

A cultural evolution approach to digital media

Digital media have today an enormous diffusion, and their influence on the behavior of a vast part of the human population can hardly be underestimated. In this review I propose that cultural evolution theory, including both a sophisticated view of …

A reappreciation of “conformity”