Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Bigger groups mean complex cultures

Two studies show that larger groups of people are better at maintaining and improving cultural knowledge.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Muthukrishna, M., Shulman, B. W., Vasilescu, V. & Henrich, J. Proc. Roy. Soc. B (2013).

  2. Derex, M., Beugin, M.-P., Godelle, B. & Raymond, M. Nature (2013).

Download references


Additional information

Read the related News & Views article.

Supplementary Information

Nature Podcast

Researcher Maxime Derex explains why large groups are best at maintaining skills and innovation over generations

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Human evolution: Group size determines cultural complexity 2013-Nov-13

Social evolution: The ritual animal 2013-Jan-23

How geography shapes cultural diversity 2012-Jun-11

Human evolution: Cultural roots 2012-Feb-15

Darwin 200: Human nature: the remix 2009-Feb-11

Behavioural Science: Secret signals 2009-Jan-28

Human evolution: Details of being human 2008-Jul-02

Related external links

Maxime Derex

Michael Muthukrishna

Joe Henrich

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yong, E. Bigger groups mean complex cultures. Nature (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing