8. Action and Culture

Insuchcasesnaturalselectioncanfavorindividuals

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Unformatted text preview: ual learning who produce information, not just those who imitate. Increasing the frequency of imitators must make information production cheaper or more accurate. 17 Imitation allows cumulative improvement. Imitators can acquire their parent’s behavior after it has been improved by learning. Hence imitators can start their search closer to the best prevailing design than purely individual learning. They when transmit the improvement to future generations … 18 Selection favors a heavy reliance on imitation whenever individual learning is error prone or costly, and environments are neither too variable nor too stable. In such cases natural selection can favor individuals who pay almost no attention to their own experience and are “bound to customs”. 19 When in doubt about what to do stop trying and copy your mother: “When in Rome do as Romans do”. I.e. imitating the most common behavior is better than imitating at random since it is less likely to acquire inappropriate behavior. If this conformist tendency is genetically or culturally heritable, it will be favored by natural selection. 20 Imitate the successful. Determining who succeed is much easier tan determining how to succeed. This way one has a chance to acquire the behavior causing success even if one has no clue about which particular features cause success. Prestige bias, though, can lead to an unstable, runaway process like the one who gives rise to exaggerate characters (e.g. peacock tail). 21 Psychological experiments suggest that w...
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