Cultural evolution

Definition

Cultural evolution is the change over time of non-biological aspects of human society. The process is loosely analogous to biological evolution, although does not necessarily involve Darwinian natural selection, and includes changes in language, art and social behaviour and norms.

Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • Comments and Opinion |

    It has long been assumed that grammar is a system of abstract rules, that the world's languages follow universal patterns, and that we are born with a ‘language instinct’. But an alternative paradigm that focuses on how we learn and use language is emerging, overturning these assumptions and many more.

    • Morten H. Christiansen
    •  & Nick Chater
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Language is a common underlying cause of conflict in multi-ethnic societies. Facilitated dialogue — a method of conflict mediation — is being used in countries such as Myanmar to mitigate language-based conflict, acknowledge language rights, and encourage societies to adopt a culture of dialogue.

    • Joseph Lo Bianco
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The founding members of the Cultural Evolution Society were surveyed to identify the major scientific questions and ‘grand challenges’ currently facing the study of cultural evolution. We present the results and discuss the implications for an emergent synthesis in the study of culture based on Darwinian principles.

    • J. Brewer
    • , M. Gelfand
    • , J. C. Jackson
    • , I. F. MacDonald
    • , P. N. Peregrine
    • , P. J. Richerson
    • , P. Turchin
    • , H. Whitehouse
    •  & D. S. Wilson
  • Editorial |

    Evolution is essential to understanding human biology, and the evolutionary impact of humans is an important factor in understanding the biology of other species.