Theory and observation in cultural transmission

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Science  01 Oct 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4567, pp. 19-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.7123211


Cultural phenomena may show considerable stability over time and space. Transmission mechanisms responsible for their maintenance are worthy of theoretical and empirical inquiry; they are complex and each possible pathway has different effects on evolutionary stability of traits, as can be shown theoretically. A survey designed to evaluate the importance of some components of cultural transmission on a variety of traits showed that religion and politics are mostly determined in the family, a mode of transmission which guarantees high evolutionary stability and maintenance of high variation between and within groups.