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What Will We Learn?: A Mathematical Treatise of Cultural Evolution
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis we apply mathematics and formal modeling to study culture from an evolutionary standpoint. Cultural evolution theory is based on the belief that we can increase our understanding of human behavior by studying how culture is created and spread. Together with my co-authors I use mathematical modeling to investigate why we need a theory for cultural evolution, what it can tell us, and how we can test such a theory.

The thesis consists of an introduction and five papers. The first paper is an empirical test of whether we need to know the history of a population to be able to determine what culture they will have. The second paper looks at the circumstances under which a genetic predisposition for imitating parents could evolve. The third paper looks at the accumulation of neutral traits, that is, cultural variants that flow between people at random without affecting their fitness; neutrality provides an important null hypothesis to other explanations of why we have the culture that we do. The fourth paper makes an attempt at defining what makes a cultural variant successful, and thereby reveals some important differences between genetic and cultural evolution. Finally, the fifth paper investigates a model that can be used to study mechanisms of cultural evolution in laboratory experiments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Akademin för utbildning, kultur och kommunikation , 2008.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 58
Keyword [en]
Cultural Evolution, Mathematical modeling
National Category
Computational Mathematics
Research subject
Matematik/tillämpad matematik
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-545ISBN: 978-91-85485-76-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-545DiVA: diva2:121107
Public defence
2008-03-25, Lambda, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21
List of papers
1. Culture cannot be determined by genes and environment alone:: An empirical study of online game behavior.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Culture cannot be determined by genes and environment alone:: An empirical study of online game behavior.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-4175 (URN)
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2010-01-14Bibliographically approved
2. When natural selection favors imitation of parents.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When natural selection favors imitation of parents.
2008 (English)In: Current Anthropology, ISSN 0011-3204, Vol. 49, no 2, 307-306 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-4176 (URN)10.1086/524364 (DOI)000256039800009 ()2-s2.0-45849115129 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2011-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Neutral cultural evolution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neutral cultural evolution
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-4177 (URN)
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2014-01-10Bibliographically approved
4. Which traits will win in Cultural Evolution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Which traits will win in Cultural Evolution
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-4178 (URN)
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2014-01-10Bibliographically approved
5. Explore and Collect: a Framework for testing Cultural Evolution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Explore and Collect: a Framework for testing Cultural Evolution
(English)In: Journal of Mathematical PsychologyArticle in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-4179 (URN)
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved

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