Acerbi, A. and Kendal, J. and Tehrani, J.J. (2017) 'Cultural complexity and demography : the case of folktales.', Evolution and human behavior., 38 (4). pp. 474-480.
We investigate the relationship between cultural complexity and population size in a non-technological cultural domain for which we have suitable quantitative records: folktales. We define three levels of complexity for folk narratives: the number of tale types, the number of narrative motifs, and, finally, the number of traits in variants of the same type, for two well-known tales for which we have data from previous studies. We found a positive relationship between number of tale types and population size, a negative relationship for the number of narrative motifs, and no relationship for the number of traits. The absence of a consistent relationship between population size and complexity in folktales provides a novel perspective on the current debates in cultural evolution. We propose that the link between cultural complexity and demography could be domain dependent: in some domains (e.g. technology) this link is important, whereas in others, such as folktales, complex traditions can be easily maintained in small populations as well as large ones, as they may appeal to universal cognitive biases.
|Full text:||(AM) Accepted Manuscript|
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
Download PDF (754Kb)
|Publisher Web site:||https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2017.03.005|
|Publisher statement:||© 2017 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/|
|Date accepted:||27 March 2017|
|Date deposited:||03 April 2017|
|Date of first online publication:||30 March 2017|
|Date first made open access:||30 March 2018|
Save or Share this output
|Look up in GoogleScholar|