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The Cultural Evolution Society's Online Learning Series

Foundations of Cultural Evolution

Lecture 7: How do innovations spread?

Diffusion image.

How to change the shape of diffusion curves

How new behaviors spread is an interesting question for many. Whether it's the newest technology, health-related practice, or song, the answers address fundamental assumptions about social learning at the population level. It is also a common applied problem, where the spread of innovations is often framed in terms of diffusion and its empirical manifestation conceptualized in terms of a diffusion curve, as pictured here.

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References cited

Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. New York.

Some readings about diffusion curves and social learning

Franz, M., & Nunn, C. L. (2009). Network-based diffusion analysis: a new method for detecting social learning. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1663), 1829-1836.

Henrich, J. (2001). Cultural transmission and the diffusion of innovations: Adoption dynamics indicate that biased cultural transmission is the predominate force in behavioral change. American Anthropologist, 103(4), 992-1013.

Kandler, A., Wilder, B., & Fortunato, L. (2017). Inferring individual-level processes from population-level patterns in cultural evolution. Royal Society open science, 4(9), 170949.

Reader, S. M., & Laland, K. N. (2000). Diffusion of foraging innovations in the guppy. Animal Behaviour, 60(2), 175-180.

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