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Modelling the evolution and diversity of cumulative culture
Stockholms universitet, Centrum för evolutionär kulturforskning.
Brooklyn College of the City University New York, Department of Psychology and Honors Academy.
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication. (CEK, MERO)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7164-0924
2011 (English)In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8436, Vol. 366, no 1563, 412-423 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous work on mathematical models of cultural evolution has mainly focused on the diffusion of simple cultural elements. However, a characteristic feature of human cultural evolution is the seemingly limitless appearance of new and increasingly complex cultural elements. Here, we develop a general modelling framework to study such cumulative processes, in which we assume that the appearance and disappearance of cultural elements are stochastic events that depend on the current state of culture. Five scenarios are explored: evolution of independent cultural elements, stepwise modification of elements, differentiation or combination of elements and systems of cultural elements. As one application of our framework, we study the evolution of cultural diversity (in time as well as between groups).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 366, no 1563, 412-423 p.
Keyword [en]
cultural evolution, cumulative culture, mathematical model, cultural diversity, cultural systems
National Category
Humanities Other Humanities
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13329DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0132ISI: 000285793800010ScopusID: 2-s2.0-79951834833OAI: diva2:458799
Swedish Research Council, 2009-2390
Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-24 Last updated: 2014-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Enquist, MagnusEriksson, Kimmo
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