Natural Selection and Cultural Rates of ChangeREAD FULL ARTICLE (PDF): HERE
by Deborah S. Rogers and Paul R. Ehrlich
It has been claimed that a meaningful theory of cultural evolution is not possible because human beliefs and behaviors do not follow predictable patterns. However, theoretical models of cultural transmission and observations of the development of societies suggest that patterns in cultural evolution do occur.
Here, we analyze whether two sets of related cultural traits, one tested against the environment and the other not, evolve at different rates in the same populations.
Using functional and symbolic design features for Polynesian canoes, we show that natural selection apparently slows the evolution of functional structures, whereas symbolic designs differentiate more rapidly. This finding indicates that cultural change, like genetic evolution, can follow theoretically derived patterns.
April 7, 2008
Towards a Scientific Theory of Cultural Evolution
Pioneering researchers Deborah S. Rogers and Paul R. Ehrlich, in an open access article, have made an important contribution to understanding cultural evolution. In this article the authors differentiate some clear mechanisms for cultural emergence and change - and point out the distinctions between the dynamics of human development and cultural evolution:
Posted by Eric