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Dr Alex Mesoudi

Dr Alex Mesoudi

Associate Professor in Cultural Evolution

 01326 253712

 SERSF 1.18

 

Science and Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF):, University of Exeter,  Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK

 Office hours:

Week 11: 2-4pm Thurs 6th Dec, 2-3pm Fri 7th Dec

Week 12: 12-1pm Mon 10th Dec, 1-2pm Tues 11th Dec

Overview

I conduct research into human cultural evolution, in which cultural change is studied as an evolutionary process, and social learning, the processes by which we learn from other people. I run lab experiments and construct theoretical models investigating human social learning biases - who learns what, from whom, when and why - and how these generate and maintain large-scale cultural change and diversity.

Many of these experiments and models have examined past human technology, aiming to explain change and diversity in artifacts such as arrowheads or handaxes. Other work has looked at why only humans appear to possess cumulative cultural evolution, where knowledge is accumulated over successive generations. I have also looked at contemporary phenomena related to social learning such as copycat suicide. More recently I have been studying migrant communities, using immigration as a natural experiment for identifying the drivers of inter-generational cultural change and stasis.

Qualifications

  • 2002-2005 PhD, University of St Andrews (School of Psychology)
  • 2001-2002 MSc Evolutionary Psychology, University of Liverpool
  • 1998-2001 BSc Psychology, University College London

Career

  • 2015 - present Associate Professor, Biosciences, University of Exeter
  • 2012-2015 Reader in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Durham University
  • 2008-2012 Lecturer in Psychology, School of Biological & Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London
  • 2007-2008 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Social & Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • 2006-2007 Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia
  • 2005-2006 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia

Links

Research group links

Research

Research interests

I conduct research into human cultural evolution, in which cultural change is studied as an evolutionary process that operates in parallel to genetic evolution. My 2011 book Cultural Evolution gives an easy-to-read overview of this burgeoning and inter-disciplinary field, which links many traditional social science disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, economics, linguistics, psychology etc.) within an evolutionary framework.

In my own research, I run lab experiments and construct theoretical models investigating human social learning biases: who learns what, from whom, when and why. These social learning biases can then be used to explain large-scale patterns of cultural change and diversity.

Research projects

Current and past projects include (please also see my personal website for more details):

1. Experimental simulations of past technological change
I have used computer tasks in which people design simple artifacts, such as arrowheads or handaxes, to ask questions such as:

  • when do people copy others’ artifact designs (social learning) rather than try to improve their artifacts on their own (individual learning)?
  •  if they copy, who do they copy? (e.g. the most successful individual? The most common design in the group?)
  • how do different learning dynamics generate different patterns of change and diversity? For example, if everyone copies the same most-successful artifact maker, artifact diversity will soon be lost.

I work with archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists (e.g. Michael O’Brien, Missouri; Stephen Lycett, SUNY Buffalo) to use these insights to explain real-life technological change observed in the archaeological record.

2. Migration as a natural experiment for studying cultural change
Psychologists and anthropologists have identified extensive cross-cultural variation in many aspects of the way people think and learn. Yet the causes of this cross-cultural variation are often unclear or unknown. Immigration is an excellent ‘natural experiment’ for teasing apart the causes of cultural change and stasis: the extent to which new migrants shift from the learning or thinking styles of their society of origin to the styles of their adopted society indicates the strength of parental (‘vertical’) transmission relative to local (‘horizontal’) influences, such as mass media or schooling.

Two recent ESRC projects have looked at cross-cultural or inter-generational variation in learning and thinking styles. One project (in collaboration with Lei Chang, CUHK) showed that people from the Chinese mainland are more likely to copy others’ solutions in an artifact-design task than White British participants (Mesoudi et al. 2015, Proc Roy Soc B). Interestingly, people from Hong Kong, and recent Chinese immigrants to the UK, both showed identical learning styles to the White British participants, indicating that these learning styles can be quite flexible. A second project is currently looking at various measures of thinking style in multiple generations of British Bangladeshis in East London, and beyond (see www.thinkingstylesproject.com).

3. Cumulative cultural evolution
Many species show social learning (learning from conspecifics), and many show cultural traditions (between-population differences in behaviour due to social learning). However, only humans seem to have cumulative cultural evolution, where knowledge is accumulated over successive generations such that we can learn from others what no single person could ever invent on their own. I have developed models to try to understand the evolution of cumulative culture from cultural traditions and social learning precursors (Kempe et al. 2014, J Theor Biol), and models of the dynamics of cumulative cultural evolution (Mesoudi 2011, PLOS ONE).

4. Transmission chain studies of content biases in cultural evolution
The transmission chain method involves passing material along chains of participants, much like the children’s game Chinese Whispers or Broken Telephone, to see how information is systematically distorted due to repeated transmission (‘content biases’). These studies have shown biases for information about social relationships over non-social information (Mesoudi et al. 2006, Brit J Psychol) and biases for high-level / global information over low-level details (Mesoudi & Whiten 2004, J Cogn Culture).

5. Copycat suicide
In a previous study (Mesoudi 2008, PLOS ONE) I used agent-based simulations to explore the phenomenon of copycat suicide, examining the person-to-person social learning biases that might be responsible for what sociologists call ‘point clusters’ (suicide outbreaks localised in specific times and places, such as schools or hospitals) and ‘mass clusters’ (nationwide increases in suicide rates in response to highly publicised celebrity suicides).

6. Partible paternity and human mating behaviour
Partible paternity is the belief found in certain South American societies such as the Bari or the Ache that children can have more than one true, ‘biological’ father. In collaboration with Kevin Laland (St Andrews) I constructed gene-culture coevolutionary models examining how these culturally-transmitted beliefs may have coevolved with different genetically-influenced human mating behaviour (Mesoudi & Laland 2007, Proc R Soc B).

Research grants

  • 2017 Leverhulme Trust
    The Cultural Evolution of Social Hierarchy: An Experimental Investigation (217,042)
  • 2013 ESRC
    An experimental study of East-West differences in social learning (£80,567)
  • 2013 ESRC
    Why do people from different cultures think differently? Explaining cultural variation in psychological traits (£369,437)
  • 2010 Leverhulme Trust
    Human Cultural Transmission: From Psychology Lab to the Artefactual Record (£115,964)

Publications

Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Key publications


Mesoudi A (2017). Pursuing Darwin's curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Dall SRX, Thornton A (2016). The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31(3), 215-225. Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Murray K, Lu HJ (2015). Higher frequency of social learning in China than in the West shows cultural variation in the dynamics of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282(1798), 20142209-20142209. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Kempe M, Lycett SJ, Mesoudi A (2014). From cultural traditions to cumulative culture: parameterizing the differences between human and nonhuman culture. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 359, 29-36. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2011). An experimental comparison of human social learning strategies: Payoff-biased social learning is adaptive but underused. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(5), 334-342. Abstract.
Danchin É, Charmantier A, Champagne FA, Mesoudi A, Pujol B, Blanchet S (2011). Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12(7), 475-486. Abstract.  Author URL.

Publications by category


Books

Mesoudi A, Aoki K (2015). Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution during the Palaeolithic., Springer. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). Cultural Evolution How Darwinian Theory can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences., University of Chicago Press. Abstract.

Journal articles

Ellis EC, Richerson PJ, Mesoudi A, Svenning J-C, Odling-Smee J, Burnside WR (In Press). Evolving the human niche. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113(31). Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Magid K, Hussain D (2018). Correction: How Do People Become W.E.I.R.D.? Migration Reveals the Cultural Transmission Mechanisms Underlying Variation in Psychological Processes. PLoS One, 13(8). Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2018). Migration, acculturation, and the maintenance of between-group cultural variation. PLoS One, 13(10). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi AA, Thornton A (2018). What is cumulative cultural evolution?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Full text.
Mesoudi A (2017). Cultural evolution: Subsistence and social learning. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(5).
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2017). Differences in Manufacturing Traditions and Assemblage-Level Patterns: the Origins of Cultural Differences in Archaeological Data. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 24(2), 640-658. Abstract.  Full text.
Magid K, Sarkol V, Mesoudi A (2017). Experimental priming of independent and interdependent activity does not affect culturally variable psychological processes. Royal Society Open Science, 4(5), 161025-161025. Full text.
Mesoudi A (2017). Pursuing Darwin's curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2016). Copying error, evolution, and phylogenetic signal in artifactual traditions: an experimental approach using "model artifacts". Journal of Archaeological Science, 70, 23-34. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural Evolution: a Review of Theory, Findings and Controversies. Evolutionary Biology, 43(4), 481-497. Abstract.  Full text.
Whiten A, Caldwell CA, Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural diffusion in humans and other animals. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 15-21. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural evolution: Integrating psychology, evolution and culture. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 17-22. Abstract.  Full text.
Lycett SJ, Schillinger K, Eren MI, von Cramon-Taubadel N, Mesoudi A (2016). Factors affecting Acheulean handaxe variation: Experimental insights, microevolutionary processes, and macroevolutionary outcomes. Quaternary International, 411, 386-401. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Magid K, Hussain D (2016). How Do People Become W.E.I.R.D.? Migration Reveals the Cultural Transmission Mechanisms Underlying Variation in Psychological Processes. PLoS One, 11(1). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Reyes-García V, Balbo AL, Gomez-Baggethun E, Gueze M, Mesoudi A, Richerson P, Rubio-Campillo X, Ruiz-Mallén I, Shennan S (2016). Multilevel processes and cultural adaptation: Examples from past and present small-scale societies. Ecol Soc, 21(4). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Acerbi A, Tennie C, Mesoudi A (2016). Social learning solves the problem of narrow-peaked search landscapes: Experimental evidence in humans. Royal Society Open Science, 3(9). Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Dall SRX, Thornton A (2016). The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31(3), 215-225. Full text.
Henrich J, Boyd R, Derex M, Kline MA, Mesoudi A, Muthukrishna M, Powell AT, Shennan SJ, Thomas MG (2016). Understanding cumulative cultural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(44), E6724-E6725. Full text.
Mesoudi A (2015). A Darwinian Theory of Cultural Evolution can Promote an Evolutionary Synthesis for the Social Sciences. Biological Theory, 2(3), 263-275.
Mesoudi A (2015). Biological and Cultural Evolution: Similar but Different. Biological Theory, 2(2), 119-123.
Priestley M, Mesoudi A (2015). Do Online Voting Patterns Reflect Evolved Features of Human Cognition? an Exploratory Empirical Investigation. PLoS One, 10(6). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Murray K, Lu HJ (2015). Higher frequency of social learning in China than in the West shows cultural variation in the dynamics of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282(1798), 20142209-20142209. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Acerbi A, Mesoudi A (2015). If we are all cultural Darwinians what’s the fuss about? Clarifying recent disagreements in the field of cultural evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 30(4), 481-503. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, O’Brien MJ (2015). The Learning and Transmission of Hierarchical Cultural Recipes. Biological Theory, 3(1), 63-72.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2015). The impact of imitative versus emulative learning mechanisms on artifactual variation: Implications for the evolution of material culture. Evolution and Human Behavior Abstract.  Full text.
Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2014). An experimental demonstration of the effect of group size on cultural accumulation. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(4), 285-290. Abstract.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2014). Considering the role of time budgets on copy-error rates in material culture traditions: an experimental assessment. PLoS One, 9(5). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2014). Copying error and the cultural evolution of "Additive" vs. "Reductive" material traditions: an experimental assessment. American Antiquity, 79(1), 128-143. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2014). Cultural evolution in more than two dimensions: distinguishing social learning biases and identifying payoff structures. Behav Brain Sci, 37(1), 91-92. Abstract.  Author URL.
Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2014). Experimental and theoretical models of human cultural evolution. WIREs Cognitive Science, 5, 317-326. Abstract.
Kempe M, Lycett SJ, Mesoudi A (2014). From cultural traditions to cumulative culture: parameterizing the differences between human and nonhuman culture. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 359, 29-36. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Blanchet S, Charmantier A, Danchin E, Fogarty L, Jablonka E, Laland KN, Morgan TJH, Muller GB, Odling-Smee FJ, et al (2013). Is non-genetic inheritance just a proximate mechanism? a corroboration of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Biological Theory, 7
Pitcher BJ, Mesoudi A, McElligott AG (2013). Sex-biased sound symbolism in english-language first names. PLoS One, 8(6). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Atkisson C, O'Brien MJ, Mesoudi A (2012). Adult learners in a novel environment use prestige-biased social learning. Evol Psychol, 10(3), 519-537. Abstract.  Author URL.
Kempe M, Lycett S, Mesoudi A (2012). An experimental test of the accumulated copying error model of cultural mutation for Acheulean handaxe size. PLoS One, 7(11). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2012). Statistical analyses cannot be divorced from archaeological theory: a reply to potter. American Antiquity, 77(2), 372-375. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). An experimental comparison of human social learning strategies: Payoff-biased social learning is adaptive but underused. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(5), 334-342. Abstract.
Danchin É, Charmantier A, Champagne FA, Mesoudi A, Pujol B, Blanchet S (2011). Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12(7), 475-486. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Culture and the Darwinian renaissance in the social sciences and humanities. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), 109-124. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). Darwinian Sociocultural Evolution: Solutions to Dilemmas in Cultural and Social Theory. JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 67(1), 157-158. Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Evolutionary psychology meets cultural psychology. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 83-87.
Chittka L, Mesoudi A (2011). Insect Swarm Intelligence. Science, 331(6016), 401-402.
Mesoudi A, McElligott AG, Adger D (2011). Introduction: integrating genetic and cultural evolutionary approaches to language. Hum Biol, 83(2), 141-151. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Variable cultural acquisition costs constrain cumulative cultural evolution. PLoS One, 6(3). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
O'Brien MJ, Lyman RL, Mesoudi A, VanPool TL (2010). Cultural traits as units of analysis. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 365(1559), 3797-3806. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Veldhuis D, Foley RA (2010). Why aren't the social sciences Darwinian?. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 93-104.
Mesoudi A (2009). How Cultural Evolutionary Theory can Inform Social Psychology and Vice Versa. PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW, 116(4), 929-952. Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2009). How cultural evolutionary theory can inform social psychology and vice versa. Psychol Rev, 116(4), 929-952. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2009). Random copying, frequency-dependent copying and culture change. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(1), 41-48. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2009). The cultural dynamics of copycat suicide. PLoS One, 4(9). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2008). An experimental simulation of the "copy-successful-individuals" cultural learning strategy: adaptive landscapes, producer-scrounger dynamics, and informational access costs. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29(5), 350-363. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Danielson P (2008). Ethics, evolution and culture. Theory Biosci, 127(3), 229-240. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2008). Foresight in cultural evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 23(2), 243-255. Abstract.
Whiten A, Mesoudi A (2008). Review. Establishing an experimental science of culture: animal social diffusion experiments. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 363(1509), 3477-3488. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A (2008). Review. The multiple roles of cultural transmission experiments in understanding human cultural evolution. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 363(1509), 3489-3501. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). THE CULTURAL TRANSMISSION OF GREAT BASIN PROJECTILE-POINT TECHNOLOGY II: AN AGENT-BASED COMPUTER SIMULATION. AMERICAN ANTIQUITY, 73(4), 627-644. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of Great Basin projectile-point technology I: an experimental simulation. AMERICAN ANTIQUITY, 73(1), 3-28. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of great basin projectile-point technology I: an experimental simulation. American Antiquity, 73(1), 3-28. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of great basin projectile-point technology II: an agent-based computer simulation. American Antiquity, 73(4), 627-644. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Laland KN (2007). Culturally transmitted paternity beliefs and the evolution of human mating behaviour. Proc Biol Sci, 274(1615), 1273-1278. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2007). Extended evolutionary theory makes human culture more amenable to evolutionary analysis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(4). Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Laland KN (2007). Extending the behavioral sciences framework: Clarification of methods, predictions, and concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(1), 36-37. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2007). Has mental time travel really affected human culture?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(3), 326-327. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Dunbar R (2006). A bias for social information in human cultural transmission. BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 97, 405-423. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Dunbar R (2006). A bias for social information in human cultural transmission. Br J Psychol, 97(Pt 3), 405-423. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). A science of culture: Clarifications and extensions. BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES, 29(4), 366-383. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). A science of culture: Clarifications and extensions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29(4), 366-383. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). Towards a unified science of cultural evolution. Behav Brain Sci, 29(4), 329-347. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2004). Perspective: is human cultural evolution Darwinian? Evidence reviewed from the perspective of the Origin of Species. Evolution, 58(1), 1-11. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A (2004). The hierarchical transformation of event knowledge in human cultural transmission. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 4(1), 1-24. Abstract.

Chapters

Adams JW, Barmby P, Mesoudi A (2017). Discussion: Does it all add up?. In  (Ed) The Nature and Development of Mathematics: Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on Cognition, Learning and Culture, 224-233.
Mesoudi A (2015). Cultural Evolution: Overview. In  (Ed) International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition, 388-393.  Abstract.
Aoki K, Mesoudi A (2015). Introduction to “learning strategies and cultural evolution during the palaeolithic”. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 1-8.  Abstract.
Lycett SJ, Schillinger K, Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2015). Learning in the Acheulean: Experimental insights using handaxe form as a ‘model organism’. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 155-166.  Abstract.
O Brien MJ, Buchanan B, Boulanger MT, Mesoudi A, Collard M, Eren MI, Alexander Bentley R, Lee Lyman R (2015). Transmission of cultural variants in the North American paleolithic. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 121-143.  Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2013). Studying cultural transmission with in an interdisciplinary cultural evolutionary framework. In  (Ed) Understanding Cultural Transmission in Anthropology: a Critical Synthesis, 131-147.
Mesoudi A, Jensen K (2012). Culture and the Evolution of Human Sociality. In  (Ed) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology.  Abstract.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2009). Placing archaeology within a unified science of cultural evolution. In  (Ed) Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, 21-32.

Conferences

Altman A, Mesoudi A (2018). Coevolution of Scientific-Technological Innovations and Human Culture: GM Plants as a Case Study.  Author URL.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2016). Copying error, artifactual mutation, and phylogenetic signal in cultural evolution: Experimental approaches to "model artifacts".  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2009). Using psychology experiments to simulate the cultural evolution of archaeological artifacts.  Author URL.
Danielson P, Mesoudi A, Stanev R (2008). NERD and norms: Framework and experiments.  Abstract.

Publications by year


In Press

Ellis EC, Richerson PJ, Mesoudi A, Svenning J-C, Odling-Smee J, Burnside WR (In Press). Evolving the human niche. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113(31). Author URL.  Full text.

2018

Altman A, Mesoudi A (2018). Coevolution of Scientific-Technological Innovations and Human Culture: GM Plants as a Case Study.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Magid K, Hussain D (2018). Correction: How Do People Become W.E.I.R.D.? Migration Reveals the Cultural Transmission Mechanisms Underlying Variation in Psychological Processes. PLoS One, 13(8). Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2018). Migration, acculturation, and the maintenance of between-group cultural variation. PLoS One, 13(10). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi AA, Thornton A (2018). What is cumulative cultural evolution?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Full text.

2017

Mesoudi A (2017). Cultural evolution: Subsistence and social learning. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(5).
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2017). Differences in Manufacturing Traditions and Assemblage-Level Patterns: the Origins of Cultural Differences in Archaeological Data. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 24(2), 640-658. Abstract.  Full text.
Adams JW, Barmby P, Mesoudi A (2017). Discussion: Does it all add up?. In  (Ed) The Nature and Development of Mathematics: Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on Cognition, Learning and Culture, 224-233.
Magid K, Sarkol V, Mesoudi A (2017). Experimental priming of independent and interdependent activity does not affect culturally variable psychological processes. Royal Society Open Science, 4(5), 161025-161025. Full text.
Mesoudi A (2017). Pursuing Darwin's curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.

2016

Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2016). Copying error, artifactual mutation, and phylogenetic signal in cultural evolution: Experimental approaches to "model artifacts".  Author URL.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2016). Copying error, evolution, and phylogenetic signal in artifactual traditions: an experimental approach using "model artifacts". Journal of Archaeological Science, 70, 23-34. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural Evolution: a Review of Theory, Findings and Controversies. Evolutionary Biology, 43(4), 481-497. Abstract.  Full text.
Whiten A, Caldwell CA, Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural diffusion in humans and other animals. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 15-21. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural evolution: Integrating psychology, evolution and culture. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 17-22. Abstract.  Full text.
Lycett SJ, Schillinger K, Eren MI, von Cramon-Taubadel N, Mesoudi A (2016). Factors affecting Acheulean handaxe variation: Experimental insights, microevolutionary processes, and macroevolutionary outcomes. Quaternary International, 411, 386-401. Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Magid K, Hussain D (2016). How Do People Become W.E.I.R.D.? Migration Reveals the Cultural Transmission Mechanisms Underlying Variation in Psychological Processes. PLoS One, 11(1). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Reyes-García V, Balbo AL, Gomez-Baggethun E, Gueze M, Mesoudi A, Richerson P, Rubio-Campillo X, Ruiz-Mallén I, Shennan S (2016). Multilevel processes and cultural adaptation: Examples from past and present small-scale societies. Ecol Soc, 21(4). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Acerbi A, Tennie C, Mesoudi A (2016). Social learning solves the problem of narrow-peaked search landscapes: Experimental evidence in humans. Royal Society Open Science, 3(9). Abstract.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Dall SRX, Thornton A (2016). The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31(3), 215-225. Full text.
Henrich J, Boyd R, Derex M, Kline MA, Mesoudi A, Muthukrishna M, Powell AT, Shennan SJ, Thomas MG (2016). Understanding cumulative cultural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(44), E6724-E6725. Full text.

2015

Mesoudi A (2015). A Darwinian Theory of Cultural Evolution can Promote an Evolutionary Synthesis for the Social Sciences. Biological Theory, 2(3), 263-275.
Mesoudi A (2015). Biological and Cultural Evolution: Similar but Different. Biological Theory, 2(2), 119-123.
Mesoudi A (2015). Cultural Evolution: Overview. In  (Ed) International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition, 388-393.  Abstract.
Priestley M, Mesoudi A (2015). Do Online Voting Patterns Reflect Evolved Features of Human Cognition? an Exploratory Empirical Investigation. PLoS One, 10(6). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Murray K, Lu HJ (2015). Higher frequency of social learning in China than in the West shows cultural variation in the dynamics of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282(1798), 20142209-20142209. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Acerbi A, Mesoudi A (2015). If we are all cultural Darwinians what’s the fuss about? Clarifying recent disagreements in the field of cultural evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 30(4), 481-503. Abstract.  Full text.
Aoki K, Mesoudi A (2015). Introduction to “learning strategies and cultural evolution during the palaeolithic”. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 1-8.  Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Aoki K (2015). Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution during the Palaeolithic., Springer. Abstract.
Lycett SJ, Schillinger K, Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2015). Learning in the Acheulean: Experimental insights using handaxe form as a ‘model organism’. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 155-166.  Abstract.
Mesoudi A, O’Brien MJ (2015). The Learning and Transmission of Hierarchical Cultural Recipes. Biological Theory, 3(1), 63-72.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2015). The impact of imitative versus emulative learning mechanisms on artifactual variation: Implications for the evolution of material culture. Evolution and Human Behavior Abstract.  Full text.
O Brien MJ, Buchanan B, Boulanger MT, Mesoudi A, Collard M, Eren MI, Alexander Bentley R, Lee Lyman R (2015). Transmission of cultural variants in the North American paleolithic. In  (Ed) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic, 121-143.  Abstract.

2014

Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2014). An experimental demonstration of the effect of group size on cultural accumulation. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(4), 285-290. Abstract.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2014). Considering the role of time budgets on copy-error rates in material culture traditions: an experimental assessment. PLoS One, 9(5). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Schillinger K, Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2014). Copying error and the cultural evolution of "Additive" vs. "Reductive" material traditions: an experimental assessment. American Antiquity, 79(1), 128-143. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2014). Cultural evolution in more than two dimensions: distinguishing social learning biases and identifying payoff structures. Behav Brain Sci, 37(1), 91-92. Abstract.  Author URL.
Kempe M, Mesoudi A (2014). Experimental and theoretical models of human cultural evolution. WIREs Cognitive Science, 5, 317-326. Abstract.
Kempe M, Lycett SJ, Mesoudi A (2014). From cultural traditions to cumulative culture: parameterizing the differences between human and nonhuman culture. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 359, 29-36. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.

2013

Mesoudi A, Blanchet S, Charmantier A, Danchin E, Fogarty L, Jablonka E, Laland KN, Morgan TJH, Muller GB, Odling-Smee FJ, et al (2013). Is non-genetic inheritance just a proximate mechanism? a corroboration of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Biological Theory, 7
Pitcher BJ, Mesoudi A, McElligott AG (2013). Sex-biased sound symbolism in english-language first names. PLoS One, 8(6). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2013). Studying cultural transmission with in an interdisciplinary cultural evolutionary framework. In  (Ed) Understanding Cultural Transmission in Anthropology: a Critical Synthesis, 131-147.

2012

Atkisson C, O'Brien MJ, Mesoudi A (2012). Adult learners in a novel environment use prestige-biased social learning. Evol Psychol, 10(3), 519-537. Abstract.  Author URL.
Kempe M, Lycett S, Mesoudi A (2012). An experimental test of the accumulated copying error model of cultural mutation for Acheulean handaxe size. PLoS One, 7(11). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A, Jensen K (2012). Culture and the Evolution of Human Sociality. In  (Ed) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology.  Abstract.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2012). Statistical analyses cannot be divorced from archaeological theory: a reply to potter. American Antiquity, 77(2), 372-375. Abstract.

2011

Mesoudi A (2011). An experimental comparison of human social learning strategies: Payoff-biased social learning is adaptive but underused. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(5), 334-342. Abstract.
Danchin É, Charmantier A, Champagne FA, Mesoudi A, Pujol B, Blanchet S (2011). Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12(7), 475-486. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Cultural Evolution How Darwinian Theory can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences., University of Chicago Press. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). Culture and the Darwinian renaissance in the social sciences and humanities. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), 109-124. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). Darwinian Sociocultural Evolution: Solutions to Dilemmas in Cultural and Social Theory. JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 67(1), 157-158. Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Evolutionary psychology meets cultural psychology. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 83-87.
Chittka L, Mesoudi A (2011). Insect Swarm Intelligence. Science, 331(6016), 401-402.
Mesoudi A, McElligott AG, Adger D (2011). Introduction: integrating genetic and cultural evolutionary approaches to language. Hum Biol, 83(2), 141-151. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2011). Variable cultural acquisition costs constrain cumulative cultural evolution. PLoS One, 6(3). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.

2010

O'Brien MJ, Lyman RL, Mesoudi A, VanPool TL (2010). Cultural traits as units of analysis. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 365(1559), 3797-3806. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Veldhuis D, Foley RA (2010). Why aren't the social sciences Darwinian?. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 93-104.

2009

Mesoudi A (2009). How Cultural Evolutionary Theory can Inform Social Psychology and Vice Versa. PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW, 116(4), 929-952. Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2009). How cultural evolutionary theory can inform social psychology and vice versa. Psychol Rev, 116(4), 929-952. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2009). Placing archaeology within a unified science of cultural evolution. In  (Ed) Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, 21-32.
Mesoudi A, Lycett SJ (2009). Random copying, frequency-dependent copying and culture change. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(1), 41-48. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2009). The cultural dynamics of copycat suicide. PLoS One, 4(9). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text.
Mesoudi A (2009). Using psychology experiments to simulate the cultural evolution of archaeological artifacts.  Author URL.

2008

Mesoudi A (2008). An experimental simulation of the "copy-successful-individuals" cultural learning strategy: adaptive landscapes, producer-scrounger dynamics, and informational access costs. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29(5), 350-363. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Danielson P (2008). Ethics, evolution and culture. Theory Biosci, 127(3), 229-240. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2008). Foresight in cultural evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 23(2), 243-255. Abstract.
Danielson P, Mesoudi A, Stanev R (2008). NERD and norms: Framework and experiments.  Abstract.
Whiten A, Mesoudi A (2008). Review. Establishing an experimental science of culture: animal social diffusion experiments. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 363(1509), 3477-3488. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A (2008). Review. The multiple roles of cultural transmission experiments in understanding human cultural evolution. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 363(1509), 3489-3501. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). THE CULTURAL TRANSMISSION OF GREAT BASIN PROJECTILE-POINT TECHNOLOGY II: AN AGENT-BASED COMPUTER SIMULATION. AMERICAN ANTIQUITY, 73(4), 627-644. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of Great Basin projectile-point technology I: an experimental simulation. AMERICAN ANTIQUITY, 73(1), 3-28. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of great basin projectile-point technology I: an experimental simulation. American Antiquity, 73(1), 3-28. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, O'Brien MJ (2008). The cultural transmission of great basin projectile-point technology II: an agent-based computer simulation. American Antiquity, 73(4), 627-644. Abstract.

2007

Mesoudi A, Laland KN (2007). Culturally transmitted paternity beliefs and the evolution of human mating behaviour. Proc Biol Sci, 274(1615), 1273-1278. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2007). Extended evolutionary theory makes human culture more amenable to evolutionary analysis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(4). Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Laland KN (2007). Extending the behavioral sciences framework: Clarification of methods, predictions, and concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(1), 36-37. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2007). Has mental time travel really affected human culture?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(3), 326-327. Abstract.

2006

Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Dunbar R (2006). A bias for social information in human cultural transmission. BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 97, 405-423. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Dunbar R (2006). A bias for social information in human cultural transmission. Br J Psychol, 97(Pt 3), 405-423. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). A science of culture: Clarifications and extensions. BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES, 29(4), 366-383. Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). A science of culture: Clarifications and extensions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29(4), 366-383. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2006). Towards a unified science of cultural evolution. Behav Brain Sci, 29(4), 329-347. Abstract.  Author URL.

2004

Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN (2004). Perspective: is human cultural evolution Darwinian? Evidence reviewed from the perspective of the Origin of Species. Evolution, 58(1), 1-11. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A (2004). The hierarchical transformation of event knowledge in human cultural transmission. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 4(1), 1-24. Abstract.

Alex_Mesoudi Details from cache as at 2018-12-13 01:26:09

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External Engagment and Impact

Awards/Honorary fellowships

  • Winner, 2012 Margot Wilson Award for best paper in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior
  • Invited Visiting Fellow, Sackler Institute for Advanced Study, University of Tel Aviv, Israel, June 2015

Committee/panel activities

  • Treasurer, Cultural Evolution Society (2016-present)
  • Invited member, ESRC Peer Review College (2010-present)
  • External examiner, MSc Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford University (2014-2016)
  • Section Editor (Anthropology), PLOS ONE
  • Reviewer of grants for British Academy (UK), ESRC (UK), Faraday Institute (UK), Leakey Foundation (USA), Leverhulme Trust (UK), National Science Foundation (USA), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Research Foundation Flanders (Belgium), SSHRC (Canada), Swiss National Science Foundation, Templeton Foundation (USA)
  • Reviewer for journals including Science, Nature, PNAS, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Cognition, Current Anthropology, Proceedings B, Psychological Science, Psychological Review, Trends in Cognitive Science, Trends in Ecology and Evolution
  • Former Treasurer / Steering Committee member, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (2011-2014)

Invited lectures

  • Over 35 invited departmental seminars
  • Over 25 conference/symposium talks (including HBES, EHBEA, ISBE)

Teaching

I teach various aspects of evolution and human behaviour to biosciences, human sciences and geography students. I teach the second year modules The Evolution of Human Societies and Behavioural Ecology, and the third year modules The Complexity of Human Societies and Human Behavioural Ecology. I also supervise 3rd year project students conducting research into human social learning and cultural evolution.

Modules

2018/19


Supervision / Group

Research Fellows

  • Maxime Derex

Postdoctoral researchers

  • Charlotte Brand

Postgraduate researchers

  • Angel V. Jimenez Infante
  • John McKeown

Alumni

  • Delwar Hussain - Former postdoc, now at the University of Edinburgh
  • Marius Kempe - PhD student, awarded 2014
  • Kesson Magid - Former postdoc, now at Oxford University
  • Keelin Murray - Postdoc, now at the University of St Andrews
  • Vera Sarkol - PhD student, awarded 2014

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