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One cultural parent makes no culture
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2010 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, Vol. 79, no 6, 1135-1162 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ability to acquire knowledge and skills from others is widespread in animals and is commonly thought to be responsible for the behavioural traditions observed in many species. However, in spite of the extensive literature on theoretical analyses and empirical studies of social learning, little attention has been given to whether individuals acquire knowledge from a single individual or multiple models. Researchers commonly refer to instances of sons learning from fathers, or daughters from mothers, while theoreticians have constructed models of uniparental transmission, with little consideration of whether such restricted modes of transmission are actually feasible. We used mathematical models to demonstrate that the conditions under which learning from a single cultural parent can lead to stable culture are surprisingly restricted (the same reasoning applies to a single social-learning event). Conversely, we demonstrate how learning from more than one cultural parent can establish culture, and find that cultural traits will reach a nonzero equilibrium in the population provided the product of the fidelity of social learning and the number of cultural parents exceeds 1. We discuss the implications of the analysis for interpreting various findings in the animal social-learning literature, as well as the unique features of human culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 79, no 6, 1135-1162 p.
Keyword [en]
culture, primates, social learning, tradition, uniparental transmission
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-90761DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.03.009ISI: 000277933400023OAI: diva2:506466
QC 20120305Available from: 2012-02-28 Created: 2012-02-28 Last updated: 2012-03-05Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson, KimmoSjöstrand, Jonas
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