Is culture inherited through social learning?

Biological Theory 2 (3):300-306 (2007)
Authors
Kenneth Reisman
Wharton School
Abstract
In this article I challenge the widely held assumption that human culture is inherited by means of social learning. First, I address the distinction between “social” learning and “individual” learning. I argue that most cultural ideas are not acquired by one form of learning or the other, but from a hybrid of both. Second, I discuss how individual learning can interact with niche construction. I argue that these processes collectively provide a non-social route for learned ideas to be inherited and cumulatively modified. I conclude that human culture is not inherited by social learning alone; the capacities to learn from and modify our environments also play a significant role.
Keywords cultural evolution  cultural inheritance  niche construction  social learning
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DOI 10.1162/biot.2007.2.3.300
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