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Cultural Incubators and Spread of Innovation

Lake, MW; Crema, ER; (2015) Cultural Incubators and Spread of Innovation. Human Biology (Detroit): the international journal of population biology and genetics (80) pp. 1-42. Green open access

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Abstract

Several forms of social learning rely on the direct or indirect evaluation of the fitness of cultural traits. Here we argue, via a simple agent-based model, that payoff uncertainty, that is the correlation between a trait and the signal used to evaluate its fitness, plays a pivotal role in the spread of beneficial innovation. More specifically, we examine how this correlation affects the evolutionary dynamics of different forms of social learning and how each can generate divergent historical trajectories depending on the size of the sample pool. In particular, we demonstrate that social learning by copying the best model is particularly susceptible to a sampling effect caused by the interaction of payoff uncertainty, the number of models sampled (the sample pool) and the frequency with which a trait is present in the population. As a result, we identify circumstances in which smaller sample pools can act as ‘cultural incubators’ that promote the spread of innovations, while more idespread sampling of the population actually retards the rate of cultural evolution.

Type: Article
Title: Cultural Incubators and Spread of Innovation
Location: US
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol_preprints/...
Language: English
Additional information: This is an un-refereed, pre-copy-edited version of an article submitted for publication in Cultural Incubators and Spread of Innovation. Human Biology (Detroit): the international journal of population biology and genetics (80) pp. 1-42. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available from Wayne State University Press.
Keywords: Cultural Transmission, Payoff-biased transmission, Payoff Uncertainty, Spread of innovation, Agent-based model
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473411
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