The big question is, how did we manage to miss these behaviors in chimpanzees for so long?
Researchers of cultural evolution may leverage this understanding to enable them to predict (and potentially intervene) in key domains of great global concern.
Cultural forces are far greater than genetic predisposition or geographic proximity in promoting cooperation with nonkin.
Paleo-type diets by limiting salt and sugar should help limit damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys and other organ systems.
Religious systems that lose their adaptability become dangerous to the societies in which they exist, and to themselves, because they absolutize the relative.
Wrangham's new book on the evolution of cooperation gets many things right. But he errs in thinking that he can develop his thesis without invoking group selection.
In the scarce environment of our ancestral past, having a preference for highly sweet and fatty foods had real survival and reproductive advantages.
Play is not frivolous but is an adaptation designed to guide proper cognitive development in human children.
Two new books published in 2018 emphasize the role of fa’asamoa in amplifying “sticky” cultural concepts or memes—football and tattooing—in cultural adaptation.
Since cultural evolution is fueled by the creative efforts of human minds which, by anyone’s definition, are conscious, it would seem that consciousness plays a central role in cultural evolution.
In a world that is being ripped apart by polarized views and fake news, scientific discourse might be the last bastion of constructive disagreement based on respect for objective knowledge.
Rather than being evicted from the womb before their heads are too big, a new hypothesis argues that human babies are born when their growth rates become too costly for their mothers’ metabolism to support.
Human psychology evolved over millions of years in relatively stable environments in small-scale communities. But, in the modern world, evolutionary mismatch can occur where a trait adapted for one environment is out of place where we live today.
Storytelling may help to solve problems of co-ordination in hunter-gatherer societies in order to promote cooperation.
Inter-disciplinarity is something that most universities want but might not be able to achieve without organizational change.
Robert Paul is one of a very few cultural anthropologists who is contributing his extensive ethnographic knowledge to the modern study of cultural evolution.
In order for us to understand culture, it is in relation to our environments, both biological—as stressed by evolutionary psychology—and social—as stressed by cultural evolution. A well validated theoretical perspective can generate insights and explanations that lab experiments alone cannot provide.
To gain a holistic understanding of social evolution, we need to consider cumulative evidence, completing the puzzle one piece at a time. And to do that, we need to move back and forth between field and lab studies.
If field sites are cross-cultural, multi-method, and collaborative across disciplines, however, they can improve the quality of our field, and help us make major steps toward understanding the evolution of human behavior.
How might we create a field site concept for cultural evolution that provides depth and breadth but that is based on new data?
If sociologists come to recognize that sociality and group process underlie the evolution of our species and are inherent in our biology, the use of field sites will become not just a means of framing sociological research but a clarion call for transdisciplinary recognition of the centrality of our discipline.
Cultural evolution research faces many challenges in the years to come. One of the most fundamental, perhaps, is to establish the extent to which cultural evolution is Darwinian.
Together with commentaries by authors with diverse perspectives on field research, we hope to catalyze the formation of field sites for the study of cultural evolution around the world.
The human capacity to transmit large amounts of learned information across generations is now properly seen as both a product of genetic evolution and a process of evolution in its own right.