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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jul 6;101(27):10235-40. Epub 2004 Jun 24.

The evolution of culture: from primate social learning to human culture.

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1
Departamento de Mejora Genética Animal, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, Carretera de la Coruña Kilómetro 7, 28040 Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

Cultural transmission in our species works most of the time as a cumulative inheritance system allowing members of a group to incorporate behavioral features not only with a positive biological value but sometimes also with a neutral, or even negative, biological value. Most of models of dual inheritance theory and gene-culture coevolution suggest that an increase, either qualitative or quantitative, in the efficiency of imitation is the key factor to explain the transformation of primate social learning in a cumulative cultural system of inheritance as it happens during hominization. We contend that more efficient imitation is necessary but not enough for this transformation to occur and that the key factor enabling such a transformation is that some hominids developed the capacity to approve or disapprove their offspring's learned behavior. This capacity to approve or disapprove offspring's behavior makes learning both less costly and more accurate, and it transformed the hominid culture into a system of cumulative cultural inheritance similar to that of humans, although the system was still prelinguistic in nature.

PMID:
15218098
PMCID:
PMC454193
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0400156101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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