Social learning and the maintenance of cultural variation: an evolutionary model and data from East Africa

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Publication Type Journal Article
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Anthropology
Creator McElreath, Richard
Title Social learning and the maintenance of cultural variation: an evolutionary model and data from East Africa
Date 2004
Description Human societies maintain between-group variation despite mixing of people and ideas. In order for variation to remain, migrants or their children must preferentially adopt local norms, customs, and beliefs. Yet the details of how cultural variation is maintained, despite mixing, remain unknown. This article addresses this problem by using a simple model of the evolution of cultural learning to interpret the results of a study of cultural variation in a small region of East Africa. I argue that the manner in which migrants of two diverse regions adapt to local beliefs and behavior depends on the costs and accuracy of learning in each domain. Observational studies are never definitive tests of any hypothesis, but these results suggest that conclusions about the significance of cultural learning for understanding individual attitudes and behavior depend strongly upon the domain of investigation.
Type Text
Publisher American Anthropological Association
Volume 106
Issue 2
First Page 308
Last Page 321
Subject Cultural variation; cultural identity; East Africa
Subject LCSH Culture; Ethnic groups; Social change; Immigrants
Language eng
Bibliographic Citation McElreath, R. (2004). Social learning and the maintenance of cultural variation: an evolutionary model and data from East Africa. American Anthropologist, 106(2), 308-21.
Rights Management (c)American Anthropological Association
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 174,156 bytes
Identifier ir-main,4870
ARK ark:/87278/s6x06rh0
Setname ir_uspace
Date Created 2012-06-13
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 705913
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6x06rh0
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