Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


Cultural Evolution Develops Its Own Rules

The University of Chicago Press - doi:10.1086/508696

Evolution Develops Its Own Rules
Author(s) Stefano Ghirlanda, Magnus Enquist, and Mayuko Nakamaru
Identifiers Current Anthropology, volume 47 (2006), pages 1027–1034

In the human sciences, cultural evolution is often viewed as an autonomous process essentially free of genetic influence. A question that follows is, If culture is not influenced by genes, can it take any path? Employing a simple mathematical model of cultural transmission in which individuals may copy each other's traits, it can be shown that cultural evolution favors individuals who are weakly influenced by others and able to influence others. The model suggests that the cultural evolution of rules of cultural transmission tends to create populations that evolve rapidly toward conservatism. Bias in cultural transmission may result purely from cultural dynamics. Freedom from genetic influence is not freedom to take any direction.