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An investigation of the relationship between innovation and cultural diversity

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Abstract

In this paper we apply reaction-diffusion models to explore the relationship between the rate of behavioural innovation and the level of cultural diversity. We investigate how both independent invention and the modification and refinement of established innovations impact on cultural dynamics and diversity. Further, we analyse these relationships in the presence of biases in cultural learning and find that the introduction of new variants typically increases cultural diversity substantially in the short term, but may decrease long-term diversity. Independent invention generally supports higher levels of cultural diversity than refinement. Repeated patterns of innovation through refinement generate characteristic oscillating trends in diversity, with increasing trends towards greater average diversity observed for medium but not low innovation rates. Conformity weakens the relationship between innovation and diversity. The level of cultural diversity, and pattern of temporal dynamics, potentially provide clues as to the underlying process, which can be used to interpret empirical data. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Volume76
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

    Research areas

  • Innovation, Invention, Cultural transmission, Cultural diversity, Conformity, Reaction-diffusion model, TRANSMISSION, SPREAD, DIFFUSION, EVOLUTION, AFRICA, MODELS

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