Article: article from journal or magazin.
On the number of independent cultural traits carried by individuals and populations.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
In species subject to individual and social learning, each individual is likely to express a certain number of different cultural traits acquired during its lifetime. If the process of trait innovation and transmission reaches a steady state in the population, the number of different cultural traits carried by an individual converges to some stationary distribution. We call this the trait-number distribution. In this paper, we derive the trait-number distributions for both individuals and populations when cultural traits are independent of each other. Our results suggest that as the number of cultural traits becomes large, the trait-number distributions approach Poisson distributions so that their means characterize cultural diversity in the population. We then analyse how the mean trait number varies at both the individual and population levels as a function of various demographic features, such as population size and subdivision, and social learning rules, such as conformism and anti-conformism. Diversity at the individual and population levels, as well as at the level of cultural homogeneity within groups, depends critically on the details of population demography and the individual and social learning rules.
Cultural Characteristics, Cultural Diversity, Cultural Evolution, Demography, Humans, Learning/physiology, Models, Theoretical
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