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Innovation in Cultural SystemsContributions from Evolutionary Anthropology$
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Michael J. O'Brien and Stephen J. Shennan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262013338

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262013338.001.0001

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The Evolution of Innovation-Enhancing Institutions

The Evolution of Innovation-Enhancing Institutions

(p.99) 7 The Evolution of Innovation-Enhancing Institutions
Innovation in Cultural Systems

Joseph Henrich

The MIT Press

This chapter uses an integrated approach to decision making and cultural evolution to analyze the development of population-level differences in innovativeness. It outlines research showing how evolutionary theory can direct and inform the understanding of decision making, social learning, and cultural evolution. It also explores how a population's size and its degree of cultural interconnectedness can affect rates of both innovation and invention. This chapter shows that individual inventiveness likely plays a smaller role than cultural interconnectedness in innovation. It suggests that the cultural evolution of behavioral norms that increased groups' cultural interconnectedness may have ignited causes an autocatalytic culture-gene coevolutionary interaction.

Keywords:   decision making, cultural evolution, innovativeness, evolutionary theory, social learning, cultural interconnectedness, behavioral norms

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