Article

Dual-inheritance theory: the evolution of human cultural capacities and cultural evolution

Joseph Henrich and Richard McElreath

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198568308.013.0038

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Dual-inheritance theory: the evolution of human cultural capacities and cultural evolution

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Humans learn, via observation of others. This article refers to this form of social learning, which may be particular to humans, as cultural learning. The combination of both the high fidelity and frequency of social learning in the lineage has generated cumulative cultural evolution, which may exist to any significant degree only in the lineage. Paleoarchaeology suggests that substantial cumulative cultural evolution has likely been occurring for at least the last 280,000 years, and is thus a key element in understanding human genetic evolution. The article's second point is illustrated by societies with partible paternity. In providing such a framework, dual-inheritance theory aims to incorporate these and other aspects of human culture under Charles Darwin's theory by focusing on three key concepts.

Keywords: humans; observation; social learning; cultural learning; cultural evolution; partible paternity; dual-inheritance theory; culture; Charles Darwin

Article.  10927 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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