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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Feb 12;366(1563):402-11. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0238.

Macro-evolutionary studies of cultural diversity: a review of empirical studies of cultural transmission and cultural adaptation.

Author information

  • 1Department of Anthropology, UCL , 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK. r.mace@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

A growing body of theoretical and empirical research has examined cultural transmission and adaptive cultural behaviour at the individual, within-group level. However, relatively few studies have tried to examine proximate transmission or test ultimate adaptive hypotheses about behavioural or cultural diversity at a between-societies macro-level. In both the history of anthropology and in present-day work, a common approach to examining adaptive behaviour at the macro-level has been through correlating various cultural traits with features of ecology. We discuss some difficulties with simple ecological associations, and then review cultural phylogenetic studies that have attempted to go beyond correlations to understand the underlying cultural evolutionary processes. We conclude with an example of a phylogenetically controlled approach to understanding proximate transmission pathways in Austronesian cultural diversity.

PMID:
21199844
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3013475
Free PMC Article

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