A drum beat in the laboratory. Credit: Daniel Vegel
Living organisms aren’t the only things that evolve over time. Cultural practices change, too, and in recent years social scientists have taken a keen interest in understanding this cultural evolution. Much research has focused on psychological factors among individuals, like how our visual system constrains the shape of written characters.
But environmental factors like availability of materials or physical space likely play a role, too, says Helena Miton, a Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. Although researchers in the field generally acknowledge the influence of the environment on cultural shifts, she says, the effects have never been investigated experimentally. Full story.