71 found
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  1.  89
    Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson & Joseph Henrich (2008). Five Misunderstandings About Cultural Evolution. Human Nature 19 (2):119-137.
    Recent debates about memetics have revealed some widespread misunderstandings about Darwinian approaches to cultural evolution. Drawing from these debates, this paper disputes five common claims: (1) mental representations are rarely discrete, and therefore models that assume discrete, gene-like particles (i.e., replicators) are useless; (2) replicators are necessary for cumulative, adaptive evolution; (3) content-dependent psychological biases are the only important processes that affect the spread of cultural representations; (4) the “cultural fitness” of a mental representation can be inferred from its successful (...)
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  2.  3
    Peter Richerson, Ryan Baldini, Adrian Bell, Kathryn Demps, Karl Frost, Vicken Hillis, Sarah Mathew, Emily Newton, Nicole Narr, Lesley Newson, Cody Ross, Paul Smaldino, Timothy Waring & Matthew Zefferman (2014). Cultural Group Selection Plays an Essential Role in Explaining Human Cooperation: A Sketch of the Evidence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences:1-71.
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  3.  37
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Complex Societies: The Evolutionary Origins of a Crude Superorganism.
    The complexity of human societies of the past few thousand years rivals that of social insect societies. We hypothesize that two sets of social “instincts” underpin and constrain the evolution of complex societies. One set is ancient and shared with other social primate species, and one is derived and unique to our lineage. The latter evolved by the late Pleistocene, and led to the evolution of institutions of intermediate complexity in acephalous societies. The institutions of complex societies often conflict with (...)
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  4.  44
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, The Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity.
    Human societies are based on cooperation among large numbers of genetically unrelated individuals. This behavior is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective. Because cooperators are..
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  5.  31
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Culture and the Evolution of Human Cooperation.
    Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article - sign up in the box at the top here right-hand corner of the article or click..
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  6.  21
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Why Does Culture Increase Human Adaptability?
    It is often argued that culture is adaptive because it allows people to acquire useful information without costly learning. In a recent paper Rogers analyzed a simple mathematical model that showed that this argument is wrong. Here we show that Rogers ' result is robust. As long as the only benefit of social learning is that imitators avoid learning costs, social learning does not increase average fitness. However, we also show that social learning can be adaptive if it makes individual (...)
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  7.  3
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1999). Complex Societies. Human Nature 10 (3):253-289.
    The complexity of human societies of the past few thousand years rivals that of social insect societies. We hypothesize that two sets of social “instincts” underpin and constrain the evolution of complex societies. One set is ancient and shared with other social primate species, and one is derived and unique to our lineage. The latter evolved by the late Pleistocene, and led to the evolution of institutions of intermediate complexity in acephalous societies. The institutions of complex societies often conflict with (...)
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  8.  57
    Peter Richerson (2008). Five Misunderstandings About Cultural Evolution. Human Nature 19 (2):119-137.
    Recent debates about memetics have revealed some widespread misunderstandings about Darwinian approaches to cultural evolution. Drawing from these debates, this paper disputes five common claims: (1) mental representations are rarely discrete, and therefore models that assume discrete, gene-like particles (i.e., replicators) are useless; (2) replicators are necessary for cumulative, adaptive evolution; (3) content-dependent psychological biases are the only important processes that affect the spread of cultural representations; (4) the “cultural fitness” of a mental representation can be inferred from its successful (...)
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  9.  25
    Peter Richerson, The Evolution of Subjective Commitment to Groups: A Tribal Instincts Hypothesis.
    Version 3.0 12/02/00. Submitted to R.M. Nesse The Evolution of Subjective Commitment, Russell Sage Foundation. Please do not cite without author’s permission.  by Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd. Comments welcome! Word count 14,487.
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  10.  3
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert T. Boyd (1981). The Search for an Alternative to the Sociobiological Hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (2):248.
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  11.  26
    William M. Baum & Peter J. Richerson, Cultural Evolution in Laboratory Microsocieties Including Traditions of Rule Giving and Rule Following.
    Experiments may contribute to understanding the basic processes of cultural evolution. We drew features from previous laboratory research with small groups in which traditions arose during several generations. Groups of four participants chose by consensus between solving anagrams printed on red cards and on blue cards. Payoffs for the choices differed. After 12 min, the participant who had been in the experiment the longest was removed and replaced with a naı¨ve person. These replacements, each of which marked the end of (...)
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  12.  49
    Peter Richerson, Cultural Evolution of Human Cooperation.
    Evolutionary theory relevant to the question of human cooperation is reviewed and compared to other theoretical perspectives. A compound explanation is distilled as a plausible account of human cooperation and selfishness. This account leans heavily on group selection on cultural variation but also includes lower-level forces driven by both micro-scale cooperation and purely selfish motives. It is proposed that innate aspects of human social psychology coevolved with group-selected cultural institutions to produce just the kinds of social and moral faculties originally (...)
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  13.  34
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Group Beneficial Norms Can Spread Rapidly in a Structured Population.
    Group beneficial norms are common in human societies. The persistence of such norms is consistent with evolutionary game theory, but existing models do not provide a plausible explanation for why they are common. We show that when a model of imitation used to derive replicator dynamics in isolated populations is generalized to allow for population structure, group beneficial norms can spread rapidly under plausible conditions. We also show that this mechanism allows recombination of different group beneficial norms arising in..
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  14.  31
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Rapid Cultural Adaptation Can Facilitate the Evolution of Large-Scale Cooperation.
    Over the past several decades, we have argued that cultural evolution can facilitate the evolution of largescale cooperation because it often leads to more rapid adaptation than genetic evolution, and, when multiple stable equilibria exist, rapid adaptation leads to variation among groups. Recently, Lehmann, Feldman, and colleagues have published several papers questioning this argument. They analyze models showing that cultural evolution can actually reduce the range of conditions under which cooperation can evolve and interpret these models as indicating that we (...)
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  15.  80
    Peter J. Richerson & Richard Boyd (2004). Darwinian Evolutionary Ethics: Between Patriotism and Sympathy. In Phillip Clayton & Jeffrey Schloss (eds.), Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 50--77.
  16.  42
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2000). Climate, Culture and the Evolution of Cognition. In Celia Heyes & Ludwig Huber (eds.), The Evolution of Cognition. MIT Press 329--45.
    What are the causes of the evolution of complex cognition? Discussions of the evolution of cognition sometimes seem to assume that more complex cognition is a fundamental advance over less complex cognition, as evidenced by a broad trend toward larger brains in evolutionary history. Evolutionary biologists are suspicious of such explanations since they picture natural selection as a process leading to adaptation to local environments, not to progressive trends. Cognitive adaptations will have costs, and more complex cognition will evolve only (...)
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  17.  31
    Peter Richerson (2007). A Prolegomenon to Nonlinear Empiricism in the Human Behavioral Sciences. Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):1-33.
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  18.  83
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Gene–Culture Coevolution and the Evolution of Social Institutions.
    Social institutions are the laws, informal rules, and conventions that give durable structure to social interactions within a population. Such institutions are typically not designed consciously, are heritable at the population level, are frequently but not always group benefi cial, and are often symbolically marked. Conceptualizing social institutions as one of multiple possible stable cultural equilibrium allows a straightforward explanation of their properties. The evolution of institutions is partly driven by both the deliberate and intuitive decisions of individuals and collectivities. (...)
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  19.  27
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Transmission Coupling Mechanisms: Cultural Group Selection.
    The application of phylogenetic methods to cultural variation raises questions about how cultural adaption works and how it is coupled to cultural transmission. Cultural group selection is of particular interest in this context because it depends on the same kinds of mechanisms that lead to tree-like patterns of cultural variation. Here, we review ideas about cultural group selection relevant to cultural phylogenetics. We discuss why group selection among multiple equilibria is not subject to the usual criticisms directed at group selection, (...)
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  20. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Why Possibly Language Evolved.
    Human syntactic language has no close parallels in other systems of animal communication. Yet it seems to be an important part of the cultural adaptation that serves to make humans the earth’s dominant organism. Why is language restricted to humans given that communication seems to be so useful? We argue that language is part of human cooperation. We talk because others can normally trust what we say to be useful to them, not just to us. Models of gene-culture coevolution give (...)
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  21.  30
    Peter Richerson, Institutional Evolution in the Holocene: The Rise of Complex Societies.
    Summary: The evolution of complex societies began when agricultural subsistence systems raised human population densities to levels that would support large scale cooperation, and division of labor. All agricultural origins sequences postdate 11,500 years ago probably because late Pleistocene climates we extremely variable, dry, and the atmosphere was low in carbon dioxide. Under such conditions, agriculture was likely impossible. However, the tribal scale societies of the Pleistocene did acquire, by geneculture coevolution, tribal social instincts that simultaneously enable and constrain the (...)
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  22.  21
    Peter J. Richerson, Cultural Innovations and Demographic Change.
    Demography plays a large role in cultural evolution through its effects on the effective rate of innovation. If we assume that useful inventions are rare, then small isolated societies will have low rates of invention. In small populations, complex technology will tend to be lost as a result of random loss or incomplete transmission (the Tasmanian effect). Large populations have more inventors and are more resistant to loss by chance. If human populations can grow freely, then a population-technology-population positive feedback (...)
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  23.  27
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2001). Built for Speed, Not for Comfort. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 23:423-463.
  24.  85
    Peter J. Richerson & Lesley Newson (2009). Is Religion Adaptive? Yes, No, Neutral. But Mostly We Don't Know. In . Oxford Univ Pr 100-117.
    Accession Number: ATLA0001788477; Hosting Book Page Citation: p 100-117.; Language(s): English; Issued by ATLA: 20130825; Publication Type: Essay.
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  25.  29
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1997). Built for Speed, Not for Comfort. Darwinian Theory and Human Culture. Philosophica 60 (3/4):425 - 465.
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  26.  26
    Peter Richerson, Tribal S Ocial Instin Cts a Nd the Cultural Evolution O F Institutions to Solv E Col Lecti Ve Action Problems.
    Human social life is uniquely complex and diverse. Much of that complexity consists of culturally transmitted ideas and skills that underpin the operation of institutions that structure our social life. Considerable theoretical and empirical work has been devoted to the role of cultural evolutionary processes in the evolution of institutions. The most persistent controversy has been over the role of cultural group selection and gene-culture coevolution in early human populations the Pleistocene. We argue that cultural group selection and related cultural (...)
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  27.  81
    Robert Boyd & Peter Richerson (2006). Culture, Adaptation, and Innateness. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.
    It is almost 30 years since the sociobiology controversy burst into full bloom. The modern theory of the evolution of animal behavior was born in the mid 1960’s with Bill Hamilton’s seminal papers on inclusive fitness and George William’s book Adaptation and Natural Selection. The following decade saw an avalanche of important ideas on the evolution of sex ratio, animal conflicts, parental investment, and reciprocity, setting off a revolution our understanding of animal societies, a revolution that is still going on (...)
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  28.  30
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2008). Response to Our Critics. Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):301-315.
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  29.  21
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Payoff Biased Migration and the Evolution of Group Beneficial Behavior.
    Human migration is nonrandom. In small scale societies of the past, and in the modern world, people tend to move to wealthier, safer, and more just societies from poorer, more violent, less just societies. If immigrants are assimilated, such nonrandom migration can increase the occurrence of culturally transmitted beliefs, values, and institutions that cause societies to be attractive to immigrants. Here we describe and analyze a simple model of this process. This model suggests that long run outcomes depend on the (...)
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  30.  22
    Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Evolution on a Restless Planet: Were Environmental Variability and Environmental Change Major Drivers of Human Evolution?
    Two kinds of factors set the tempo and direction of organic and cultural evolution, those external to biotic evolutionary process, such as changes in the earth’s physical and chemical environments, and those internal to it, such as the time required for chance factors to lead lineages across adaptive valleys to a new niche space (Valentine 1985). The relative importance of these two sorts of processes is widely debated. Valentine (1973) argued that marine invertebrate diversity patterns responded to seafloor spreading as (...)
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  31.  52
    Peter Richerson, Why Culture is Common, but Cultural Evolution is Rare.
    If culture is defined as variation acquired and maintained by social learning, then culture is common in nature. However, cumulative cultural evolution resulting in behaviors that no individual could invent on their own is limited to humans, song birds, and perhaps chimpanzees. Circumstantial evidence suggests that cumulative cultural evolution requires the capacity for observational learning. Here, we analyze two models the evolution of psychological capacities that allow cumulative cultural evolution. Both models suggest that the conditions which allow the evolution of (...)
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  32.  27
    Robort Boyd & Peter J. Richerson (1976). A Simple Dual Inheritance Model of the Conflict Between Social and Biological Evolution. Zygon 11 (3):254-262.
  33.  15
    Peter Richerson & Robert Boyd, Constraints on the Development of Agriculture.
    Evolutionary scholars advance two major sorts of hypotheses to explain big events, such as the origin of agriculture. One hypothesis assumes that natural selection is so powerful that organisms are always close to an evolutionary equilibrium with current environment. Thus, any major changes will be a result of external processes having to do with the environment. The other camp imagines that evolution is a slow, halting, and biased process that is limited and directed by internal obstacles that thwart what natural (...)
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  34.  37
    Robert Boyd, Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter J. Richerson, Arthur Robson, Jeffrey R. Stevens & Peter Hammerstein, Individual Decision Making and the Evolutionary Roots of Institutions.
    Humans hunt and kill many different species of animals, but whales are our biggest prey. In the North Atlantic, a male long-fi nned pilot whale (Globiceph- ala melaena), a large relative of the dolphins, can grow as large as 6.5 meters and weigh as much as 2.5 tons. As whales go, these are not particularly large, but there are more than 750,000 pilot whales in the North Atlantic, traveling in groups, “pods,” that range from just a few individuals to a (...)
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  35.  36
    Peter J. Richerson & Lore Ruttan, Ethnic Interactions: Analysis of a Sample of Boundaries.
    In this paper, we analyze a sample of 46 ethnic boundaries drawn from the literature. The principal aim is to test whether there is a universal syndrome of ethnocentrism, the idea that ethnic relations can be characterized along a single dimension of differences, or, whether there are instead multiple types of ethnic relations. The latter hypothesis is based on a cultural evolutionary perspective that suggests that there may be competing forces leading to the evolution of ethnic markers, and hence to (...)
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  36.  12
    Robert Boyd & Peter I. Richerson (2005). Culture, Adaptation. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind. Oxford University Press 2--23.
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  37.  20
    Peter J. Richerson, Beyond Existence and Aiming Outside the Laboratory: Estimating Frequency-Dependent and Payoff-Biased Social Learning Strategies.
    The existence of social learning has been confirmed in diverse taxa, from apes to guppies. In order to advance our understanding of the consequences of social transmission and evolution of behavior, however, we require statistical tools that can distinguish among diverse social learning strategies. In this paper, we advance two main ideas. First, social learning is diverse, in the sense that individuals can take advantage of different kinds of information and combine them in different ways. Examining learning strategies for different (...)
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  38.  36
    Peter Richerson, Evolution: The Darwinian Theory of Social Change, an Homage to Donald T. Campbell.
    One of the earliest and most influential papers applying Darwinian theory to human cultural evolution was Donald T. Campbell’s paper “Variation and Selective Retention in Sociocultural Systems.” Campbell’s programmatic essay appeared as a chapter in a book entitled Social Change in Developing Areas (Barringer et al., 1965). It sketched a very ambitious project to apply Darwinian principles to the study of the evolution of human behavior. His essential theses were four.
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  39. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1987). Simple Models of Complex Phenomena: The Case of Cultural Evolution. In John Dupre (ed.), The Latest on the Best: Essays on Evolution and Optimality. MIT Press 27--52.
     
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  40.  35
    Peter Richerson, Cultural Evolutionary Theory: A Synthetic Theory for Fragmented Disciplines.
    Cultural evolutionary theory, like other evolutionary theories, links individual-level and population or society-level phenomena. It provides numerous bridges between social psychology and other disciplines and sub-disciplines. The theory uses mathematical models to understand the population-level consequences of the individual-level processes of individual and social learning. The theory has been used to explain group-level behavior such as cooperation, altruism, and the cross-cultural variation associated with social institutions. The empirical study of social psychological assumptions of such models and experimental tests of cultural-evolutionary (...)
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  41.  35
    Peter Richerson, Cultural Selection and Genetic Diversity in Humans.
    Recent research into human origins has largely focused on deducing past events and processes from current patterns of genetic variation. Some human genes possess unexpectedly low diversity, seemingly resulting from events of the late Pleistocene. Such anomalies have previously been ascribed to population bottlenecks or selection on genes. For four species of matrilineal whale, evidence suggests that cultural evolution may have reduced the diversity of genes which have similar transmission characteristics to selective cultural traits, through a process called cultural hitchhiking. (...)
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  42.  26
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Norms and Bounded Rationality.
    Anthropologists believe that human behavior is governed by culturally transmitted norms, and that such norms contain accumulated wisdom that allows people to behave sensibly even though they do not understand why they do what they do. Economists and other rational choice theorists have been skeptical about functionalist claims because anthropologists have not provided any plausible mechanism which could explain why norms have this property. Here, we outline two such mechanisms. We show that occasional learning when coupled with cultural transmission and (...)
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  43.  26
    Peter Richerson, Shared Norms Can Lead to the Evolution of Ethnic Markers.
    Most human populations are subdivided into ethnic groups which have self-ascribed membership and are marked by seemingly arbitrary traits such as distinctive styles of dress or speech. Existing explanations of ethnicity do not adequately explain the origin and maintenance of group marking. Here we develop a mathematical model which shows that groups distinguished by both differences in social norms and in arbitrary markers can emerge and remain stable despite significant mixing between them, if (1) people preferentially interact in mutually beneficial (...)
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  44.  25
    Robert Boyd, Monique Bogerhoff-Mulder & Peter J. Richerson, Are Cultural Phylogenies Possible?
    Biology and the social sciences share an interest in phylogeny. Biologists know that living species are descended from past species, and use the pattern of similarities among living species to reconstruct the history of phylogenetic branching. Social scientists know that the beliefs, values, practices, and artifacts that characterize contemporary societies are descended from past societies, and some social science disciplines, linguistics and cross cultural anthropology for example, have made use of observed similarities to reconstruct cultural histories. Darwin appreciated that his (...)
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  45.  29
    Peter Richerson, Group Size and Sincere Communication in Experimental Social Dilemmas.
    This paper makes two contributions to the research on cooperation in experimental social dilemmas. First, we demonstrate an interaction between group size and communication in which the effectiveness of communication in promoting cooperation declines as group size increases. Second, we corroborate some previous research showing the positive effect of communication is due to sincere signaling of cooperative intentions. The experimental data comes from 289 undergraduate student subjects playing public goods games over a computer network. These findings suggest that large group (...)
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  46.  30
    Peter Richerson, Memes: Universal Acid or a Better Mouse Trap?
    Among the many vivid metaphors in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, one stands out. The understanding of how cumulative natural selection gives rise to adaptations is, Dennett says, like a “universal acid”—an idea so powerful and corrosive of conventional wisdom that it dissolves all attempts to contain it within biology. Like most good ideas, this one is very simple: Once replicators (material objects that are faithfully copied) come to exist, some will replicate more rapidly than others, leading to adaptation by natural selection. (...)
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  47.  24
    Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Shared Norms Can Lead to the Evolution of Ethnic Markers.
    Most human populations are subdivided into ethnic groups which have self-ascribed membership and are marked by seemingly arbitrary traits such as distinctive styles of dress or speech. Existing explanations of ethnicity do not adequately explain the origin and maintenance of group marking. Here we develop a mathematical model which shows that groups distinguished by both differences in social norms and in arbitrary markers can emerge and remain stable despite significant mixing between them, if (1) people preferentially interact in mutually beneficial (...)
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  48.  27
    Peter Richerson, Group Beneficial Norms Can Spread Rapidly in a Structured Population.
    Group beneficial norms are common in human societies. The persistence of such norms is consistent with evolutionary game theory, but existing models do not provide a plausible explanation for why they are common. We show that when a model of imitation used to derive replicator dynamics in isolated populations is generalized to allow for population structure, group beneficial norms can spread rapidly under plausible conditions. We also show that this mechanism allows recombination of different group beneficial norms arising in different (...)
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  49.  23
    Peter Richerson, The Evolution of Altruistic Punishment.
    Robert Boyd*†, Herbert Gintis‡, Samuel Bowles§, and Peter J. Richerson¶.
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  50.  27
    Peter Richerson, Culture and the Evolution of the Human Social Instincts.
    Human societies are extraordinarily cooperative compared to those of most other animals. In the vast majority of species, individuals live solitary lives, meeting to only to mate and, sometimes, raise their young. In social species, cooperation is limited to relatives and (maybe) small groups of reciprocators. After a brief period of maternal support, individuals acquire virtually all of the food that they eat. There is little division of labor, no trade, and no large scale conflict. Communication is limited to a (...)
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