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The Cultural Evolution Society's Online Learning Series

Models of Social Dynamics


Readings for the module are listed by lecture.

Unit 1


Smaldino PE (2017) Models are stupid, and we need more of them. In R Vallacher, SJ Read, & A Nowak (Eds.), Computational social psychology (pp. 311Ð331). New York: Psychology Press. http://smaldino.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Smaldino2017-ModelsAreStupid.pdf

Kauffman, S. A. (1971). Articulation of parts explanation in biology and the rational search for them. In R. C. Buck & R. S. Cohen (Eds.), PSA 1970 (pp. 257Ð72). Irvine, CA. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-010-1829-6_11

Weisberg M (2007) Who is a modeler? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58: 207-233. https://www.jstor.org/stable/30115224

NetLogo: https://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/

NetLogo User's Manual: https://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/docs/

Unit 2


Barnett GA (2011) Mathematical models of the diffusion process. In The diffusion of innovations: A communication science perspective, pp 103-122. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/21535

Bass FM (1969) A new product growth for model consumer durables. Management Science 15: 215-227. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2628128


Transmission biases

Laland KN (2004) Social learning strategies. Learning & Behavior 32: 4-14. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/BF03196002

Kendal RL et al. (2018) Social learning strategies: Bridge-building between fields. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 22: 651-665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.04.003

Smaldino PE, Aplin LM, Farine DR. (2018) Sigmoidal acquisition curves are good indicators of conformist transmission. Scientific Reports 8: 14015. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-30248-5

Complex contagion.

Centola D, Macy M (2007) Complex contagions and the weakness of long ties. American Journal of Sociology 113: 702-734. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/521848

Emotion contagion

Hill AL, Rand DG, Nowak MA, Christakis, NA (2010) Emotions as infectious diseases in a large social network: The SISa model. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 3827Ð3835. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1217

Ingroup-bias and adoption

Smaldino PE, Janssen MA, Hillis V, Bednar J. (2017) Adoption as a social marker: Innovation diffusion with outgroup aversion. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 41: 26-45. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022250X.2016.1250083

Unit 3
Opinions and polarization


Deffuant, G., Neau, D., Amblard, F., & Weisbuch, G. (2000). Mixing beliefs among interacting agents. Advances in Complex Systems, 3, 87-98. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0219525900000078

Flache A, et al. (2017) Models of social influence: Towards the next frontiers. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 20(4): 2. http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/20/4/2.html


Differentiation from similar individuals

Smaldino PE, Epstein JM (2015) Social conformity despite individual preferences for distinctiveness. Royal Society Open Science 2: 140437. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.140437

Weisbuch G (2015) From anti-conformism to extremism. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 18(3): 1. http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/3/1.html

Touboul J (2019) The hipster effect: When anti-conformists all look the same. Discrete & Continuous Dynamical Systems B 24: 4379Ð4415. http://dx.doi.org/10.3934/dcdsb.2019124

Multiple interacting opinions.

Axelrod R (1997) The dissemination of culture: A model with local convergence and global polarization. Journal of Conflict Resolution 41: 203-226. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022002797041002001

Mark NP (2003) Culture and competition: Homophily and distancing explanations for cultural niches. American Sociological Review 68: 319-345. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1519727

Battiston F, Nicosia V, Latora V, San Miguel M (2017) Layered social influence promotes multiculturality in the Axelrod model. Scientific Reports 7: 1809. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-02040-4

Network structure.

Flache, A., & Macy, M. W. (2011). Small worlds and cultural polarization. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 35(1-3), 146-176. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022250X.2010.532261

Turner, M. A., & Smaldino, P. E. (2018). Paths to polarization: How extreme views, miscommunication, and random chance drive opinion dynamics. Complexity 2018: 2740959. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/2740959

Scientific beliefs.

Akerlof GA, Michaillat P (2019) Persistence of false paradigms in low-power sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: 13228-13233. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1816454115

Weatherall JO, O'Connor C (2019) Conformity in scientific networks. arXiv: 1803.09905v4. https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.09905v4

Unit 4


Axelrod R, Hamilton WD (1981) The evolution of cooperation. Science 211: 1390-1396. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.7466396

Nowak MA (2006) Five rules for the evolution of cooperation. Science 314: 1560-1563. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1133755

Cronk L (2015) Human cooperation: Evolutionary approaches to a complex phenomenon. Handbook on evolution and society: Toward an evolutionary social science, 441-459. http://www.humangenerosity.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Human-Cooperation.pdf


Diving deeper

Trivers RL (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 35-57. https://doi.org/10.1086/406755

Axelrod R (1997) The complexity of cooperation: Agent-based models of competition and collaboration. Princeton University Press. https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691015675/the-complexity-of-cooperation

Nowak MA, Sigmund K (2005) Evolution of indirect reciprocity. Nature 437: 1291Ð1298. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature04131

Smaldino PE, Schank JC, McElreath R (2013) Increased costs of cooperation help cooperators in the long run. American Naturalist 181: 451Ð463. https://doi.org/10.1086/669615

Cooperation in larger groups

Simon HA (1990) A mechanism for social selection and successful altruism. Science 250: 1665Ð1668. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.2270480

Boyd R, Richerson PJ (1992) Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups. Ethology and Sociobiology 13: 171Ð195. https://doi.org/10.1016/0162-3095(92)90032-Y

Henrich J, Boyd R (2001) Why people punish defectors: Weak conformist transmission can stabilize costly enforcement of norms in cooperative dilemmas. Journal of Theoretical Biology 208: 79-89. https://doi.org/10.1006/jtbi.2000.2202

Hooper PL, Kaplan HS, Boone JL (2010) A theory of leadership in human cooperative groups. Journal of Theoretical Biology 265: 633Ð646. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.05.034

Smaldino PE, Lubell M (2014) Institutions and cooperation in an ecology of games. Artificial Life 20: 207Ð221. https://doi.org/10.1162/ARTL_a_00126

Cooperation and competition

Hammond RA, Axelrod R (2006) The evolution of ethnocentrism. Journal of Conflict Resolution 50: 926Ð936. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022002706293470

Choi J-K, Bowles S (2007) The coevolution of parochial altruism and war. Science 318: 636. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1144237

Makowsky MD, Smaldino PE (2016) The evolution of power and the divergence of cooperative norms. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 126: 75Ð88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2015.09.002

Waring TM, Goff SH, Smaldino PE (2017) The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecological Economics 131: 524Ð532. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.09.022

Unit 5
Coordination and norms


Boyd R, Richerson PJ (2002) Group beneficial norms can spread rapidly in a structured population. Journal of Theoretical Biology 215: 287Ð296. https://doi.org/10.1006/jtbi.2001.2515

Ehrlich PR, Levin SA (2005) The evolution of norms. PLOS Biology 3(6): e194. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0030194


Cultural group selection

Henrich J (2004) Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 53: 3Ð35. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-2681(03)00094-5

Boyd R, Richerson PJ (2010) Transmission coupling mechanisms: Cultural group selection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365: 3787Ð3795. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0046

Richerson PJ et al. (2016) Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39: e30. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X1400106X

Signals and markers

Spence M (1973) Job market signaling. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 87: 355Ð374. https://doi.org/10.2307/1882010

McElreath R, Boyd R, Richerson PJ (2003) Shared norms and the evolution of ethnic markers. Current Anthropology 44: 122Ð130. https://doi.org/10.1086/345689

Noisy signals and intragroup variation

Smaldino PE, Flamson TJ, McElreath R (2018) The evolution of covert signaling. Scientific Reports 8: 4905. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22926-1

Hoffman M, Hilbe C, Nowak MA (2018) The signal-burying game can explain why we obscure positive traits and good deeds. Nature Human Behaviour 2: 397Ð404. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0354-z

Language and conventions

Cangelosi A, Parisi D (1998) The emergence of a 'language' in an evolving population of neural networks. Connection Science 10: 83Ð97. https://doi.org/10.1080/095400998116512

Puglisi A, Baronchelli A, Loreto V (2008) Cultural route to the emergence of linguistic categories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 7936Ð7940. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0802485105

Contreras Kallens PA, Dale R, Smaldino PE (2018) Cultural evolution of categorization. Cognitive Systems Research 52: 765Ð774. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsys.2018.08.026

Unit 6
Sociopolitical cycles


Wangersky PJ (1978) Lotka-Volterra population models. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 9(1): 189-218. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.09.110178.001201

Turchin P (2003) The metaethnic frontier theory. In Historical dynamics (pp 50Ð77). Princeton University Press. http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/files/gems/coevolutionV/collectivesolidarity.pdf


The evolution of contagion

Goodnight C, Rauch E, Sayama H, De Aguiar MAM, Baranger M, Bar-Yam Y (2008) Evolution in spatial predator-prey models and the 'prudent predator': The inadequacy of steady-state organism fitness and the concept of individual and group selection. Complexity 13(5): 23Ð44. https://doi.org/10.1002/cplx.20209

Getting more complicated with historical cycles

Turchin P, Currie TE, Turner EAL, Gavrilets S (2013) War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 16384Ð16389. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1308825110

Turchin P (2016) Ages of discord: A structural demographic analysis of American history. Beresta Books. https://peterturchin.com/ages-of-discord/

Growing artificial societies

Epstein JM, Axtell R (1996) Growing artificial societies. MIT Press. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/growing-artificial-societies

Epstein JM (2006) Generative social science: Studies in agent-based computational modeling. Princeton University Press. https://press.princeton.edu/books/ebook/9781400842872/generative-social-science

Crabtree SA, Bocinsky RK, Hooper PL, Ryan SC (2017) How to make a polity (in the central Mesa Verde region). American Antiquity 82: 71Ð95. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2016.18


Kondo S, Mura T (2010) Reaction-diffusion model as a framework for understanding biological pattern formation. Science 329: 1616Ð1620. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1179047

Jones J (2010) Characteristics of pattern formation and evolution in approximations of Physarum transport networks. Artificial Life 16: 127Ð153. https://doi.org/10.1162/artl.2010.16.2.16202

Unit 7


Epstein JM (2008) Why model? Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 11(4): 12. http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/11/4/12.html.bak

Gunawardena J (2014) Models in biology: Accurate descriptions of our pathetic thinking. BMC Biology 12: 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7007-12-29

Smaldino P (2019) Better methods cannot make up for mediocre theory. Nature 575: 9. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03350-5

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