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The Mystery of Symbolic Culture: What fitness costs? What fitness benefits?

Abstract : In contrast to language or technology, many “symbolic” cultural phenomena do not seem to confer immediate fitness benefits. Standard approaches to cultural evolution in this domain focus on the recipients or consumers, which does not explain why these phenomena emerge. As a solution, we propose to consider the fitness costs and benefits incurred in producing behaviors or information that become widespread in a social group. Taking the producers’ perspective helps explain otherwise puzzling features of many kinds of cultural phenomena, such as artistic activities, sports, religious representations, or even moralistic norms. Considering the producers’ as well as the consumers’ benefits is crucial to generating precise hypotheses about the psychological adaptations that underpin cultural evolution.
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Contributor : Charlotte Bultel <>
Submitted on : Monday, December 14, 2020 - 3:13:26 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM

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Jean-Baptiste André, Nicolas Baumard, Pascal Boyer. The Mystery of Symbolic Culture: What fitness costs? What fitness benefits?. 2020. ⟨ijn_03064735⟩



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