Models of cultural niche construction with selection and assortative mating

Nicole Creanza, Laurel Fogarty, Marcus W. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Niche construction is a process through which organisms modify their environment and, as a result, alter the selection pressures on themselves and other species. In cultural niche construction, one or more cultural traits can influence the evolution of other cultural or biological traits by affecting the social environment in which the latter traits may evolve. Cultural niche construction may include either gene-culture or culture-culture interactions. Here we develop a model of this process and suggest some applications of this model. We examine the interactions between cultural transmission, selection, and assorting, paying particular attention to the complexities that arise when selection and assorting are both present, in which case stable polymorphisms of all cultural phenotypes are possible. We compare our model to a recent model for the joint evolution of religion and fertility and discuss other potential applications of cultural niche construction theory, including the evolution and maintenance of large-scale human conflict and the relationship between sex ratio bias and marriage customs. The evolutionary framework we introduce begins to address complexities that arise in the quantitative analysis of multiple interacting cultural traits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42744
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2012


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