Cultural evolution

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.

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Latest Research and Reviews

  • Reviews |

    Muthukrishna & Henrich argue that solving the replication crisis in psychology partly requires well-specified, overarching theoretical frameworks. They outline how dual inheritance theory provides one such example that could be adopted by the field.

    • Michael Muthukrishna
    •  & Joseph Henrich
  • Research |

    Uranium-series dating of rock art from Borneo reveals a minimum date for figurative artwork of 40,000 years ago, and a distinct style of parietal art in Southeast Asia at the Last Glacial Maximum.\

    • M. Aubert
    • , P. Setiawan
    • , A. A. Oktaviana
    • , A. Brumm
    • , P. H. Sulistyarto
    • , E. W. Saptomo
    • , B. Istiawan
    • , T. A. Ma’rifat
    • , V. N. Wahyuono
    • , F. T. Atmoko
    • , J.-X. Zhao
    • , J. Huntley
    • , P. S. C. Taçon
    • , D. L. Howard
    •  & H. E. A. Brand
    Nature 564, 254-257
  • Research |

    A field study and three experiments demonstrate that people who engage in rare (non-normative) prosocial behaviours will be more effective advocates for those behaviours than people who merely praise the virtues of these prosocial behaviours.

    • Gordon T. Kraft-Todd
    • , Bryan Bollinger
    • , Kenneth Gillingham
    • , Stefan Lamp
    •  & David G. Rand
    Nature 563, 245-248

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    A study finds that social norms have become weaker in the United States over the past 200 years. The changing strength of norms is linked to fluctuations in societal levels of innovation and risky behaviour.

    • Michael E. W. Varnum
  • News and Views |

    A study finds association between the occurrence of intimate partner violence and marital fertility among Tsimané forager-horticulturalists, independent of proximate explanations, suggesting that intimate partner violence may persist as an evolutionary strategy to enhance male fitness.

    • Elizabeth G. Pillsworth
  • News and Views |

    By analysing whether characteristics of Austronesian populations could predict the rate of adoption of Christianity, researchers find that political leadership and small population sizes facilitated Christianity’s spread in the Pacific.

    • Nicole Creanza
  • Editorial |

    Language is a fundamental human characteristic. Its origins and development can inform our understanding of human ecology and evolution, and evolutionary biology methods can be fruitfully applied to linguistics in turn.