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Cultural Evolution – Society, Technology, Language, and Religion - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Cultural Evolution: Society, Technology, Language, and Religion

Peter J. Richerson and Morton H. Christiansen


Over the past few decades, a growing body of research has emerged from a variety of disciplines to highlight the importance of cultural evolution in understanding human behavior. Wider application of these insights, however, has been hampered by traditional disciplinary boundaries. To remedy this, leading researchers from theoretical biology, developmental and cognitive psychology, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, history, and economics come together in this volume to explore the central role of cultural evolution in different aspects of human endeavor. The contributors ... More

Keywords: cultural evolution, human behavior, social systems, technology, language, religion

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780262019750
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262019750.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Peter J. Richerson, editor
University of California - Davis

Morton H. Christiansen, editor

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1 Introduction

Peter J. Richerson and Morten H. Christiansen

Structure of Human Groups

2 Zoon Politicon

Herbert Gintis and Carel van Schaik

5 Like Me

Daniel B. M. Haun and Harriet Over

6 Cultural Evolution of the Structure of Human Groups

Fiona M. Jordan, Carel van Schaik, Pieter François, Herbert Gintis, Daniel B. M. Haun, Daniel J. Hruschka, Marco A. Janssen, James A. Kitts, Laurent Lehmann, Sarah Mathew, Peter J. Richerson, Peter Turchin and Polly Wiessner

Technology and Science

7 The Cultural Evolution of Technology

Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson and Joseph Henrich

11 The Cultural Evolution of Technology and Science

Alex Mesoudi, Kevin N. Laland, Robert Boyd, Briggs Buchanan, Emma Flynn, Robert N. McCauley, Jürgen Renn, Victoria Reyes-García, Stephen Shennan, Dietrich Stout and Claudio Tennie


15 Phylogenetic Models of Language Change

Russell D. Gray, Simon J. Greenhill and Quentin D. Atkinson

16 Cultural Evolution of Language

Dan Dediu, Michael Cysouw, Stephen C. Levinson, Andrea Baronchelli, Morten H. Christiansen, William Croft, Nicholas Evans, Simon Garrod, Russell D. Gray, Anne Kandler and Elena Lieven


17 The Evolution of Prosocial Religions

Edward Slingerland, Joseph Henrich, and Ara Norenzayan

19 Religious Prosociality

Ara Norenzayan, Joseph Henrich, and Edward Slingerland

20 The Cultural Evolution of Religion

Joseph Bulbulia, Armin W. Geertz, Quentin D. Atkinson, Emma Cohen, Nicholas Evans, Pieter François, Herbert Gintis, Russell D. Gray, Joseph Henrich,, Fiona M. Jordon, Ara Norenzayan, Peter J. Richerson, Edward Slingerland, Peter Turchin, Harvey Whitehouse, Thomas Widlok and David S. Wilson