Why does culture increase human adaptability?

Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

199 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is often argued that culture is adaptive because it allows people to acquire useful information without costly learning. In a recent paper Rogers (1989) analyzed a simple mathematical model that showed that this argument is wrong. Here we show that Rogers' result is robust. As long as the only benefit of social learning is that imitators avoid learning costs, social learning does not increase average fitness. However, we also show that social learning can be adaptive if it makes individual learning more accurate or less costly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalEthology and Sociobiology
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

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learning
Learning
Theoretical Models
Costs and Cost Analysis
social benefit
Social Learning
Adaptability
fitness
mathematical models
Costs
Mathematical Model
Fitness

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Culture
  • Social learning
  • Sociobiology

Cite this

Why does culture increase human adaptability? / Boyd, Robert; Richerson, Peter J.

In: Ethology and Sociobiology, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1995, p. 125-143.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Boyd, Robert ; Richerson, Peter J. / Why does culture increase human adaptability?. In: Ethology and Sociobiology. 1995 ; Vol. 16, No. 2. pp. 125-143.
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