Brief Communications Arising | Published:

Group size and cultural complexity

Nature volume 511, page E1 (03 July 2014) | Download Citation


Arising from M. Derex, M.-P. Beugin, B. Godelle & M. Raymond Nature 503, 389–391 (2013)

A decade ago, Henrich1 proposed group size as a driver of cultural complexity. Derex et al.2 now present experimental results they say support this ‘group size hypothesis’ by seemingly showing that larger groups perform better than smaller groups under imitation-based cultural evolution. Our reanalysis of their experimental data, however, shows that larger groups actually perform worse than smaller groups. Thus, contrary to their claim, their data are consistent with empirical evidence discounting the group size hypothesis for non-food producing societies3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. There is a Reply to this Brief Communication Arising by Derex, M. et al. Nature 511, (2014).

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Author information


  1. Physical Resource Theory/Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Göteborg, Sweden

    • Claes Andersson
  2. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

    • Dwight Read


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D.R. and C.A. contributed equally to this Brief Communications Arising.

Competing interests

Competing Financial Interests Declared none.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dwight Read.

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