Partial Connectivity Increases Cultural Accumulation within Groups. Derex, M. and Boyd, R. 113(11):2982–2987.
Partial Connectivity Increases Cultural Accumulation within Groups [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
[Significance] The remarkable ecological success of the human species has been attributed to our capacity to overcome environmental challenges through the development of complex technologies. Complex technologies are typically beyond the inventive capacities of individuals and result from a population process by which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population's ability to develop technologies is positively affected by its size and connectedness. Here, we present an experiment demonstrating that partially connected groups produce more diverse and complex cultural traits than fully connected groups. This result suggests that changes in patterns of interaction between human groups may have created propitious conditions for the emergence of complex cultural repertoires in our evolutionary past. [Abstract] Complex technologies used in most human societies are beyond the inventive capacities of individuals. Instead, they result from a cumulative process in which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population's ability to develop complex technologies is positively affected by its size and connectedness. Here, we present a simple computer-based experiment that compares the accumulation of innovations by fully and partially connected groups of the same size in a complex fitness landscape. We find that the propensity to learn from successful individuals drastically reduces cultural diversity within fully connected groups. In comparison, partially connected groups produce more diverse solutions, and this diversity allows them to develop complex solutions that are never produced in fully connected groups. These results suggest that explanations of ancestral patterns of cultural complexity may need to consider levels of population fragmentation and interaction patterns between partially isolated groups.
@article{derexPartialConnectivityIncreases2016,
  title = {Partial Connectivity Increases Cultural Accumulation within Groups},
  author = {Derex, Maxime and Boyd, Robert},
  date = {2016-03},
  journaltitle = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  volume = {113},
  pages = {2982--2987},
  issn = {1091-6490},
  doi = {10.1073/pnas.1518798113},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/13969035},
  abstract = {[Significance]

The remarkable ecological success of the human species has been attributed to our capacity to overcome environmental challenges through the development of complex technologies. Complex technologies are typically beyond the inventive capacities of individuals and result from a population process by which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population's ability to develop technologies is positively affected by its size and connectedness. Here, we present an experiment demonstrating that partially connected groups produce more diverse and complex cultural traits than fully connected groups. This result suggests that changes in patterns of interaction between human groups may have created propitious conditions for the emergence of complex cultural repertoires in our evolutionary past. [Abstract]

Complex technologies used in most human societies are beyond the inventive capacities of individuals. Instead, they result from a cumulative process in which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population's ability to develop complex technologies is positively affected by its size and connectedness. Here, we present a simple computer-based experiment that compares the accumulation of innovations by fully and partially connected groups of the same size in a complex fitness landscape. We find that the propensity to learn from successful individuals drastically reduces cultural diversity within fully connected groups. In comparison, partially connected groups produce more diverse solutions, and this diversity allows them to develop complex solutions that are never produced in fully connected groups. These results suggest that explanations of ancestral patterns of cultural complexity may need to consider levels of population fragmentation and interaction patterns between partially isolated groups.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13969035,~to-add-doi-URL,collaborative-design,complexity,connectivity,cooperation,disciplinary-barrier,diversity,emergent-property,innovation,local-optima,local-over-complication,networks,research-management,resilience,scientific-creativity,technology},
  number = {11}
}
Downloads: 0