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Emergent Cultural Phenomena and their Cognitive Foundations

Christian Cordes

Papers on Economics and Evolution from Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography

Abstract: To explain emergent cultural phenomena, this paper argues, it is inevitable to understand the evolution of complex human cognitive adaptations and their links to the population-level dynamics of cultural variation. On the one hand, the process of cultural transmission is influenced and constrained by humans’ evolved psychology; people tend to acquire some cultural variants rather than others. On the other hand, the cultural environment provides cultural variants that are transmitted to or adopted by individuals via processes of social learning. To gain insights into this recursive relationship between individual cognitive dispositions at the micro level and cultural phenomena at the macro level, the theory of gene-culture coevolution is applied. Moreover, a model of cultural evolution demonstrates the dissemination of novelty within a population via biased social learning processes. As a result, some unique facets of human behavior and cumulative cultural evolution are identified.

Keywords: Cultural Evolution; Social Learning; Diffusion Dynamics; Coevolution; Evolutionary Economics Length 22 pages (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cul, nep-hpe and nep-soc
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Chapter: Emergent Cultural Phenomena and their Cognitive Foundations (2012) Downloads
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