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Corpses, maggots, poodles and rats: Emotional selection operating in three phases of cultural transmission of urban legends
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics. (Mathematics and Applied Mathematics)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7164-0924
Stockholm University.
2014 (English)In: Journal of Cognition and Culture, ISSN 1567-7095, E-ISSN 1568-5373, Vol. 14, no 1-2, 1-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In one conception of cultural evolution, the evolutionary success of cultural units that are transmitted from individual to individual is determined by forces of cultural selection. Here we argue that it is helpful to distinguish between several distinct phases of the transmission process in which cultural selection can operate, such as a choose-toreceive phase, an encode-and-retrieve phase, and a choose-to-transmit phase. Here we focus on emotional selection in cultural transmission of urban legends, which has previously been shown to operate in the choose-to-transmit phase. In a series of experiments we studied serial transmission of stories based on urban legends manipulated to be either high or low on disgusting content. Results supported emotional selection operating in all three phases of cultural transmission. Thus, the prevalence of disgusting urban legends in North America may be explained by emotional selection through a multitude of pathways. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 14, no 1-2, 1-26 p.
Keyword [en]
cultural transmission, disgust, emotion and memory, Emotional selection, serial reproduction
National Category
Social Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Other Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-24603DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12342107ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84894196282OAI: diva2:703566
Swedish Research Council, 2009-2390
Available from: 2014-03-07 Created: 2014-03-07 Last updated: 2015-03-17Bibliographically approved

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