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Research at St Andrews

Cultural Transmission

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


The term “cultural transmission” is widely and often imprecisely used in the scientific literature to refer to various forms and outcomes of social learning. This entry considers cultural transmission to refer to the specific forms of social transmission where knowledge is passed between individuals, through some form of social learning, resulting in persistent increases in behavioral homogeneity in a population or group. In this way, cultural transmission allows different populations or groups of animals to show distinct differences in behavior. As described in the social learning section (“Social Learning”), social transmission occurs when the performance of a behavior by one individual (directly or indirectly) causes a lasting influence on the rate at which a second individual acquires and or performs that same behavior. While social transmission can allow behaviors or knowledge to persist at individual level, only those behaviors or knowledge which persist long enough


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior
EditorsJ Vonk, T Shackleford
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-47829-6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018

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