Human Evolution @ UCL



"  Cultural Evolution


'Culture is information capable of affecting individuals' behaviour that they acquire from other members of their species through teaching, imitation and other forms of social transmission' (Richerson and Boyd 2005, 5).

Just as biological evolution is characterised by changing frequencies of genes in populations through time so cultural evolution refers to the changing distributions of cultural attributes in populations. Social transmission is the inheritance mechanism in the case of culture and culture evolves through a process of descent with modification, affected by forces such as natural selection operating on its bearers and by a variety of other forces that have no analogue in genetic evolution. The study of cultural evolution involves characterising those forces and modelling their consequences.

It is increasingly recognised that cultural evolution can influence gene distributions in populations, as in the well-known case of the selective effect of dairying on the incidence of adult lactose tolerance.

Experts in Cultural Evolution

Bevan Andrew 2

Stringer Chris 2