Four misunderstandings about cultural attraction

Thom Scott-Phillips*, Stefaan Blancke, Christophe Heintz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Cultural attraction theory (CAT) is a research agenda the purpose of which is to develop causal explanations of cultural phenomena. CAT is also an evolutionary approach to culture, in the sense that it treats culture as a population of items of different types, with the frequency of tokens of those types changing over time. Now more than 20years old, CAT has made many positive contributions, theoretical and empirical, to the naturalization of the social sciences. In consequence of this growing impact, CAT has, in recent years, been the subject of critical discussion. Here, we review and respond to these critiques. In so doing, we also provide a clear and concise introduction to CAT. We give clear characterizations of CAT's key theoretical notions, and we outline how these notions are derived from consideration of the natural character of cultural phenomena (Box ). This naturalistic quality distinguishes CAT from other evolutionary approaches to culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-173
Number of pages12
JournalEvolutionary anthropology
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cognition
  • culture
  • cultural attraction
  • cultural evolution
  • evolution
  • FATAL ATTRACTION
  • EVOLUTION
  • TRANSMISSION
  • EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • SELECTION
  • LANGUAGE
  • OTHERS
  • GENES

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