Category Archives: Cultural evolution

Cultural Evolution of Human Cooperation

We review the evolutionary theory relevant to the question of human cooperation and compare the results to other theoretical perspectives. Then, we summarize some of our work distilling a compound explanation that we believe gives a plausible account of human cooperation and selfishness. … Continue reading

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Evolution of Social Learning does not explain the origin of human cumulative culture

Because culture requires transmission of information between individuals, thinking about the origin of culture has mainly focused on the genetic evolution of abilities for social learning. Current theory considers how social learning affects the adaptiveness of a single cultural trait, … Continue reading

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Human Cumulative Cultural Evolution as a Form of Distributed Computation

Cumulative culture is the engine that drives the remarkable power of the global human computer. It enables societies to act as extremely powerful computers by ratcheting up technological and other cultural innovations. Once culture can accumulate, the ability of a … Continue reading

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Sociality Influences Cultural Complexity

Archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence suggests a link between a population’s size and structure, and the diversity or sophistication of its toolkits or technologies. Addressing these patterns, several evolutionary models predict that both the size and social interconnectedness of populations can … Continue reading

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Group Size and Cultural Complexity

A decade ago, Henrich proposed group size as a driver of cultural complexity. Derex et al. now present experimental results they say support this ‘group size hypothesis’ by seemingly showing that larger groups perform better than smaller groups under imitation-based … Continue reading

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The Origin and Evolution of Cultures

Oxford presents, in one convenient and coherently organized volume, 20 influential but until now relatively inaccessible articles that form the backbone of Boyd and Richerson’s path-breaking work on evolution and culture. Their interdisciplinary research is based on two notions. First, … Continue reading

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Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation

Current thinking in evolutionary biology holds that competition among individuals is the key to understanding natural selection. When competition exists, it is obvious that conflict arises; the emergence of cooperation, however, is less straightforward and calls for in-depth analysis. Much … Continue reading

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Cultural, Cognition and Human Action

To understand the culture and cultural evolution we must abandon the atomized and anonymous social environment of neoclassical economics. Culture is a product and a cause of the socialized nature of human action. Examination of the phylogenetic and ontogenetic neural mechanisms … Continue reading

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The Cultural Evolution of Socially Situated Cognition

Because human cognition is creative and socially situated, knowledge accumulates, diffuses, and gets applied in new  contexts, generating cultural analogs of phenomena observed in population genetics such as adaptation and drift. It is therefore commonly thought that elements of culture … Continue reading

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