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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Professor Alex Mesoudi

Professor Alex Mesoudi

Professor of Cultural Evolution

 01326 253712

 SERSF B038-109


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


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, pop music and football tactics. 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.


  • 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


  • 2019 - present Professor, Biosciences, University of Exeter
  • 2015 - 2019 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


Research group links

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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

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)

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Acerbi A, Mesoudi A, Smolla M (2022). Individual-Based Models of Cultural Evolution, a Step-by-Step Guide Using R., Taylor & Francis.
(2017). The Nature and Development of Mathematics, Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on Cognition, Learning and Culture., Taylor & Francis.
Mesoudi A, Aoki K (2015). Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution during the Palaeolithic., Springer. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2011). Cultural Evolution., University of Chicago Press.
Mesoudi A (2011). Cultural Evolution How Darwinian Theory can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences., University of Chicago Press. Abstract.

Journal articles

Galesic M, Barkoczi D, Berdahl AM, Biro D, Carbone G, Giannoccaro I, Goldstone RL, Gonzalez C, Kandler A, Kao AB, et al (2023). Beyond collective intelligence: Collective adaptation. J R Soc Interface, 20(200). Abstract.  Author URL.
Acerbi A, Burns J, Cabuk U, Kryczka J, Trapp B, Valletta JJ, Mesoudi A (2023). Sentiment analysis of the Twitter response to Netflix's Our Planet documentary. Conserv Biol, 37(4). Abstract.  Author URL.
Thornton A, Mesoudi A (2023). Untenable propositions and alternative avenues.: Comment to "Blind alleys and fruitful pathways in the comparative study of cultural cognition" by Andrew Whiten. Phys Life Rev, 44, 51-53.  Author URL.
Brand CO, Mesoudi A, Smaldino PE (2021). Analogy as a Catalyst for Cumulative Cultural Evolution. Trends Cogn Sci, 25(6), 450-461. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2021). Cultural selection and biased transformation: two dynamics of cultural evolution. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 376(1828). Abstract.  Author URL.
Brand CO, Mesoudi A, Morgan TJH (2021). Trusting the experts: the domain-specificity of prestige-biased social learning. PLoS ONE, 16(8 August). Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2021). What is Cumulative Culture, and How Should it be Tested? Comment. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY, 62(2), 225-226.  Author URL.
Jiménez ÁV, Flitton A, Mesoudi A (2021). When do people prefer dominant over prestigious political leaders?. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3 Abstract.
Jiménez ÁV, Flitton A, Mesoudi A (2021). When do people prefer dominant over prestigious political leaders? – ERRATUM. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3
Gehrig S, Mesoudi A, Lamba S (2020). Banking on cooperation: an evolutionary analysis of microfinance loan repayment behaviour. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3 Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2020). Cultural evolution of football tactics: strategic social learning in managers’ choice of formation. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 2 Abstract.
Derex M, Mesoudi A (2020). Cumulative Cultural Evolution within Evolving Population Structures. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 24(8), 654-667.
Jiménez ÁV, Mesoudi A, Tehrani JJ (2020). No evidence that omission and confirmation biases affect the perception and recall of vaccine-related information. PLoS One, 15(3). Abstract.  Author URL.
Jiménez ÁV, Mesoudi A (2020). Prestige Does Not Affect the Cultural Transmission of Novel Controversial Arguments in an Online Transmission Chain Experiment. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 20(3-4), 238-261. Abstract.
Jiménez ÁV, Mesoudi A (2020). The Cultural Transmission of Prestige and Dominance Social Rank Cues: an Experimental Simulation. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 7(2), 189-199. Abstract.
Brand CO, Heap S, Morgan TJH, Mesoudi A (2020). The emergence and adaptive use of prestige in an online social learning task. Sci Rep, 10(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Derex M, Bonnefon JF, Boyd R, Mesoudi A (2019). Causal understanding is not necessary for the improvement of culturally evolving technology. Nature Human Behaviour, 3(5), 446-452. Abstract.
Brand CO, Acerbi A, Mesoudi A (2019). Cultural evolution of emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 1 Abstract.
Brand CO, Mesoudi A (2019). Prestige and dominance-based hierarchies exist in naturally occurring human groups, but are unrelated to task-specific knowledge. ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE, 6(5).  Author URL.
Jiménez ÁV, Mesoudi A (2019). Prestige-biased social learning: current evidence and outstanding questions. Palgrave Communications, 5(1). Abstract.
Altman A, Mesoudi A (2019). Understanding Agriculture within the Frameworks of Cumulative Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Co-Evolution, and Cultural Niche Construction. Human Ecology, 47(4), 483-497. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2018). Migration, acculturation, and the maintenance of between-group cultural variation. PLoS One, 13(10). Abstract.  Author URL.
Mesoudi AA, Thornton A (2018). What is cumulative cultural evolution?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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.
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. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2017). Pursuing Darwin's curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(30), 7853-7860. Abstract.  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.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural Evolution: a Review of Theory, Findings and Controversies. Evolutionary Biology, 43(4), 481-497. Abstract.
Whiten A, Caldwell CA, Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural diffusion in humans and other animals. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 15-21. Abstract.
Mesoudi A (2016). Cultural evolution: Integrating psychology, evolution and culture. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 17-22. Abstract.
Ellis EC, Richerson PJ, Mesoudi A, Svenning J-C, Odling-Smee J, Burnside WR (2016). Evolving the human niche. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113(31).  Author URL.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Lu HJ, Mesoudi A, Chang L, Murray K (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mesoudi A (2013). Making sense of culture Culture Evolves edited by A. Whiten, R.A. Hinde, C. Stringer, and K.N. Laland. Oxford University Press, 2012. US$115.00/£65.00, hbk (480 pages), ISBN 978 0 19 960896 6. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 28(11), 626-627.
Pitcher BJ, Mesoudi A, McElligott AG (2013). Sex-biased sound symbolism in english-language first names. PLoS One, 8(6). Abstract.  Author URL.
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.
Mesoudi A (2012). Announcement: Margo Wilson Prize. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(5).
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.
Dawson EH, Mesoudi A (2011). Democratic decision-making by the hive mind Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley. Princeton University Press, 2010. US$29.95/£20.95, hbk (280 pages) ISBN 978 1 4008 3595 9. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 26(6), 268-269.
Mesoudi A (2011). Evolutionary psychology meets cultural psychology. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 83-87.
Chittka L, Mesoudi A (2011). Insect Swarm Intelligence. <b>. Honeybee Democracy. <i>by Thomas D. Seeley</i>. </b>. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2010. 279 pp. $29.95. ISBN 9780691147215. Science, 331(6016), 401-402. Abstract.
Mesoudi A, McElligott AG, Adger D (2011). Introduction: Integrating Genetic and Cultural Evolutionary Approaches to Language. Human Biology, 83(2), 141-151.
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.
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 (2010). Evolutionary Synthesis in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Cultural Science Journal, 3(1).
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. 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.
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. Philosophy of Science, 75(5), 830-842. 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 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). Evolution and Culture: a Fyssen Foundation Symposium. Based on a symposium held in St. Germain en Laye, France, 12–16 November 1999. Fyssen Foundation Series. Edited by Stephen C Levinson and , Pierre Jaisson. A Bradford Book. Cambridge (Massachusetts): MIT Press. $75.00 (hardcover); $35.00 (paper). xvii + 296 p; ill.; index. ISBN: 0‐262‐12278‐2 (hc); 0‐262‐62197‐5 (pb). 2006. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 82(1), 45-45.
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, Laland KN (2007). SCIENCE, EVOLUTION AND CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY a response to Ingold (this issue). Anthropology Today, 23(2), 18-18.
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. 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 (2005). Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. By Peter J  Richerson and , Robert  Boyd. Chicago (Illinois): University of Chicago Press. $30.00. ix + 332 p; ill.; references and author index and general index. ISBN: 0‐226‐71284‐2. 2005. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 80(4), 506-507.
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.


Mesoudi A (2023). Experimental Studies of Cultural Evolution. In  (Ed) The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Evolution, Oxford University Press (OUP).
Mesoudi A (2022). Chapter 4 Studying Cultural Transmission with in an Interdisciplinary Cultural Evolutionary Framework. In  (Ed) Understanding Cultural Transmission in Anthropology, De Gruyter, 131-147.
Mesoudi A (2020). The Study of Culture and Evolution across Disciplines. In  (Ed) The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 61-74.
Mesoudi A, O’Brien MJ (2019). Two. Placing Archaeology within a Unified Science of Cultural Evolution. In  (Ed) Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, University of California Press, 21-32.
Mesoudi A (2018). Cultural Evolution. In  (Ed) Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, Wiley, 1-8.
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). Experimental Studies of Modern Human Social and Individual Learning in an Archaeological Context: People Behave Adaptively, But Within Limits. In  (Ed) Dynamics of Learning in Neanderthals and Modern Humans Volume 2, Springer Nature, 65-76.
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, Laland KN, Boyd R, Buchanan B, Flynn E, McCauley RN, Renn J, Reyes-García V, Shennan S, Stout D, et al (2013). The Cultural Evolution of Technology and Science. In  (Ed) Cultural Evolution, MIT Press, 193-216.
Mesoudi A, Laland KN, Boyd R, Buchanan B, Flynn E, McCauley RN, Renn J, Reyes-García V, Shennan S, Stout D, et al (2013). The Cultural Evolution of Technology and Science. In  (Ed) Cultural Evolution, MIT Press, 193-216.
Mesoudi A (2012). Cultural Evolution. In  (Ed) Anthropology, Oxford University Press (OUP).
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.
Mesoudi A (2009). The Experimental Study of Cultural Innovation. In  (Ed) Innovation in Cultural Systems, MIT Press, 175-192.
Mesoudi A (2009). The Experimental Study of Cultural Innovation. In  (Ed) Innovation in Cultural Systems, MIT Press, 175-192.


Adams JW, Barmby P, Mesoudi A (2017). Discussion Does it all add up?.  Author URL.
Mesoudi A (2017). Improving maths attitudes/learning Commentary.  Author URL.
Adams JW, Barmby P, Mesoudi A (2017). Will 3 into 1 go? a multi-disciplinary view of emergent maths.  Author URL.

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External Engagement 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

  • President, Cultural Evolution Society (2024-2026)
  • Treasurer / Executive Committee member, Cultural Evolution Society (2016-2020)
  • Treasurer / Steering Committee member, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (2011-2014)
  • Invited member, ESRC Peer Review College (2010-present)
  • External examiner, MSc Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford University (2014-2016)
  • External examiner, MSc Culture, Psychology & Evolution, Bruenl University (2019-present)
  • 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
  • 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)

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I teach various aspects of evolution and human behaviour to biosciences, human sciences and geography students. I teach the second year module The Evolution of Human Societies, 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.



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Supervision / Group

Research Fellows

  • Charlotte Brand

Postdoctoral researchers

  • Angel Jimenez Infante

Postgraduate researchers

  • Andoni Soteri Edwin Sergiou
  • Ishaan Sinha


  • Maxime Derex - Former Marie Curie fellow, now has CNRS position in Toulouse
  • Dugald Foster - PhD student, awarded 2023, now a Nuffield Foundation intern in UK government
  • Delwar Hussain - Former postdoc, now at the University of Edinburgh
  • Angel V. Jimenez Infante - PhD student, awarded 2019, now a postdoc at Exeter University
  • Marius Kempe - PhD student, awarded 2014, now at St John's College, Anapolis, USA
  • Kesson Magid - Former postdoc, now at Oxford University
  • John McKeown - Former MbyRes student
  • Keelin Murray - Former postdoc, now employed outside academia
  • Vera Sarkol - PhD student, awarded 2014, now employed outside academia
  • Alice Williams - PhD student, awarded 2019, now a research assistant at Oxford University

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Office Hours:

Please email for an appointment

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