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    ABSTRACT: The neutral model of cultural evolution, which assumes that copying is unbiased, pro- vides precise predictions regarding frequency distributions of traits and the turnover within a popularity-ranked list. Here we study turnover in ranked lists, and identify where the turnover departs from neutral model predictions to detect transmission biases in three different domains: color terms usage in English language 20th century books, popularity of early (1880–1930) and recent (1960–2010) USA baby names, and musical preferences of users of the website Last.fm. To help characterize the type of transmission bias, we modify the neutral model to include a content-based bias and two context-based biases (conformity and anti-conformity). How these modified models match real data helps us to infer, from population scale observations, when cultural transmission is biased, and, to some extent, what kind of biases are operating at individual level.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Evolution and Human Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the relationship between characteristics of dog breeds and their popularity between years 1926 and 2005. We consider breed health, longevity, and behavioral qualities such as aggressiveness, trainability, and fearfulness. We show that a breed's overall popularity, fluctuations in popularity, and rates of increase and decrease around popularity peaks show typically no correlation with these breed characteristics. One exception is the finding that more popular breeds tend to suffer from more inherited disorders. Our results support the hypothesis that dog breed popularity has been primarily determined by fashion rather than function.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Human behavioral ecology (HBE) is the study of human behavior from an adaptive perspective. It focuses in particular on how human behavior varies with ecological context. Although HBE is a thriving research area, there has not been a major review published in a journal for over a decade, and much has changed in that time. Here, we describe the main features of HBE as a paradigm and review HBE research published since the millennium. We find that the volume of HBE research is growing rapidly, and its composition is changing in terms of topics, study populations, methodology, and disciplinary affiliations of authors. We identify the major strengths of HBE research as its vitality, clear predictions, empirical fruitfulness, broad scope, conceptual coherence, ecological validity, increasing methodological rigor, and topical innovation. Its weaknesses include a relative isolation from the rest of behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology and a somewhat limited current topic base. As HBE continues to grow, there is a major opportunity for it to serve as a bridge between the natural and social sciences and help unify disparate disciplinary approaches to human behavior. HBE also faces a number of open questions, such as how understanding of proximate mechanisms is to be integrated with behavioral ecologys traditional focus on optimal behavioral strategies, and the causes and extent of maladaptive behavior in humans.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Behavioral Ecology
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