transmission biases

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 …

Cultural evolution of emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics

The cultural dynamics of music has recently become a popular avenue of research in the field of cultural evolution, reflecting a growing interest in art and popular culture more generally. Just as biologists seek to explain population-level trends in …

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”

Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures

Conformist transmission, defined as a disproportionate likelihood to copy the majority, is considered a potent mechanism underlying the emergence and stabilization of cultural diversity. However, ambiguity within and across disciplines remains as to …

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 …