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Journal Article

The life history of learning: Demographic structure changes cultural outcomes


Fogarty,  Laurel
Department of Human Behavior Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Fogarty, L., Creanza, N., & Feldman, M. W. (2019). The life history of learning: Demographic structure changes cultural outcomes. PLoS Computational Biology, 15(4): e1006821. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006821.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-B37F-5
Author summary Human populations show great cultural variety and complexity, which cultural evolutionary theory seeks to explain by applying ideas about evolution to the ways in which cultural traits change over time. We combined cultural evolutionary theory with information about how people learn over their lifetimes—changing their role models and teachers as they grow up. The result is a new theory of the interaction between life histories and learning that gives a more complete description of human cultural change. The results of our model show why different cultural traits might spread in one population compared to another and how cultural change might spark large-scale demographic changes.