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Table 3 Microevolutionary processes in cultural evolution (adapted from [9])

From: Evolutionary ethnobiology and cultural evolution: opportunities for research and dialog

Processes Description
Variation
 Cultural mutation Randomly generated innovations, similar to genetic mutations
 Guided variation Individuals modify acquired information according to individual cognitive biases (Lamarckian)
Migration
 Demic diffusion Cultural traits spread as their bearers move between different groups
 Cultural diffusion Cultural traits spread across group boundaries due to cultural transmission
Cultural selection
 Content bias Preferentially adopting traits based on their intrinsic attractiveness (i.e., those that present strong emotional reactions)
 Model-based bias Preferentially adopting traits based on the characteristics of the model (person) (i.e., his/her prestige, age, or similarity)
 Conformity bias Preferentially adopting a trait based on its frequency (i.e., its popularity)
Cultural drift
 Random changes in cultural trait frequencies
Transmission
 Pathway
 • Vertical Transmission from the biological parents (uniparental or biparental)
 • Oblique Transmission from unrelated members of the parental generation
 • Horizontal Transmission from unrelated members of the same generation
 Scope
 • One-to-one Face-to-face learning from one individual to another
 • One-to-many One individual influences many individuals through mass education or mass media
 • Many-to-onea One individual is chosen to be taught by many experienced individuals
 Mechanism
 • Blending Adoption of the “average” of a continuous trait from more than one model
 • Particulate All-or-nothing transmission of discrete cultural traits
  1. aMesoudi [9] does not consider this transmission scope. Other researchers, such as Hewlett and Cavalli-Sforza [27], acknowledge the importance of the many-to-one scope