Tamariz, M., Ellison, T. M., Barr, D. J., and Fay, N. (2014) Cultural selection drives the evolution of human communication systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 281(1788), p. 20140488. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0488)
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Human communication systems evolve culturally, but the evolutionary mechanisms that drive this evolution are not well understood. Against a baseline that communication variants spread in a population following neutral evolutionary dynamics (also known as drift models), we tested the role of two cultural selection models: coordination- and content-biased. We constructed a parametrized mixed probabilistic model of the spread of communicative variants in four 8-person laboratory micro-societies engaged in a simple communication game. We found that selectionist models, working in combination, explain the majority of the empirical data. The best-fitting parameter setting includes an egocentric bias and a content bias, suggesting that participants retained their own previously used communicative variants unless they encountered a superior (content-biased) variant, in which case it was adopted. This novel pattern of results suggests that (i) a theory of the cultural evolution of human communication systems must integrate selectionist models and (ii) human communication systems are functionally adaptive complex systems.
|Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:||Fay, Dr Nicolas and Barr, Dr Dale|
|Authors:||Tamariz, M., Ellison, T. M., Barr, D. J., and Fay, N.|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)|
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
|College/School:||College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology|
|Journal Name:||Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences|
|Publisher:||The Royal Society|
|Copyright Holders:||Copyright © 2014 The Royal Society|
|First Published:||First published in Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B: Biological Sciences 281(1788):20140488|
|Publisher Policy:||Reproduced under a Creative Commons License|