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Title: Modelling Cultural Systems and Selective Filters
Authors: Fredrik, J
Elliot, A
Acerbi, A
Magnus, E
Keywords: social learning;cultural evolution;cultural systems;cultural selection
Issue Date: 17-May-2021
Publisher: The Royal Society
Citation: Jansson, F., Aguilar, E., Acerbi, A., and Enquist, M. (2021) 'Modelling cultural systems and selective filters', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376: 20200045, pp. 1-10. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0045.
Abstract: © 2021 The Author(s). A specific goal of the field of cultural evolution is to understand how processes of transmission and selection at the individual level lead to population-wide patterns of cultural diversity and change. Models of cultural evolution have typically assumed that traits are independent of one another and essentially exchangeable. But culture has a structure: traits bear relationships to one another that affect the transmission and selection process itself. Here, we introduce a modelling framework to explore the effect of interdependencies on the process of learning. Through simulations, we find that introducing a simple structure changes the cultural dynamics. Based on a basic filtering mechanism for parsing trait relationships, more elaborate cultural filters emerge. In a mostly incompatible cultural domain of traits, these filters organize culture into mostly (but not fully) consistent and stable systems. Incompatible domains produce small homogeneous cultures, while more compatibility increases size, diversity and group divergence. When individuals copy based on a trait’s features (here, its compatibility relationships), they produce more homogeneous cultures than when they copy based on the agent carrying the cultural trait. We discuss the implications of considering cultural systems and filters in the dynamics of cultural change.
Description: One contribution of 15 to a theme issue ‘Foundations of cultural evolution’ [].
Electronic supplementary material is available online at
ISSN: 0962-8436
Appears in Collections:Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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