Masteroppgave. Master i læring i komplekse systemer. Høst Cultural Selection: Theoretical Aspects and an Empirical Study - PDF

I Masteroppgave Master i læring i komplekse systemer Høst 2010 Cultural Selection: Theoretical Aspects and an Empirical Study Kulturell Seleksjon: Teoretiske Aspekter og et Empirisk Forsøk Eivind Haukaas

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I Masteroppgave Master i læring i komplekse systemer Høst 2010 Cultural Selection: Theoretical Aspects and an Empirical Study Kulturell Seleksjon: Teoretiske Aspekter og et Empirisk Forsøk Eivind Haukaas Akershus University College II Contents List of Tables and Figures... IV Acknowledgements... V Abstract... VI Article 1 Empirical Work on Cultural Selection Abstract... 2 Introduction... 3 Definitions... 4 Radical Behaviorism... 4 Selection... 7 First level of selection... 7 Second level of selection Third level of selection Discussion of Empirical Evidence Conclusion References... 20 III Article 2 Cultural Selection: The Effects of Reinforcement on Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies in a Microsociety Design Abstract... 2 Introduction... 3 Method... 9 Subjects and Setting... 9 Materials... 9 Design and Variables... 9 Procedure Results Discussion & Conclusion References Appendix A Reinforcement Value of Categories Appendix B Written Consent/Informert Samtykke Appendix C Information Sheet given to Participant 1-3 Appendix D Information Sheet given to Participant 4-20 Appendix E Information and Scorecard for Raters of Advice Sessions IV List of Tables and Figures Article 1 Empirical Work on Cultural Selection No tables included No figures included Article 2 Cultural Selection: The Effects of Reinforcement on Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies in a Microsociety Design Table1 Percentages of Responses in Categories under all Conditions..14 Table 2 Comparison of Periods of the VR5 Reinforcement Schedule...16 Figure 1 Cumulative Record of Category 5 choices 13 Figure 2 Categories chosen under the VR5 Schedule per Generation.15 V Acknowledgements I would like to extend a big thanks to Gunnar Ree for positive encouraging guidance and supervision on my work on this thesis. I would also like to thank Hege Wang for her patience and support. VI Abstract The first article of this thesis seeks empirical evidence supporting cultural selection. Select works included are written by scholars from a wide range of academic fields. Analyzing the articles utilizing the theoretical framework of Sigrid S. Glenn evidence of cultural selection is found. The author concludes that there is a need for more empirical research on cultural selection. The second article reports on an experiment conducted by the author. In the experiment variables were selected with the framework of Glenn in mind. The experiment utilized a theoretical entity of behavior at group level denoted interlocking behavioral contingency (IBC). A behavioral lineage of IBCs was created in the experiment. Results indicate that the lineage came under control of the independent variable. The author concludes that there is a need for further research on cultural selection and emphasize the need for more research with a contextual materialistic approach. Keywords: Cultural selection, cultural evolution, interlocking behavioral contingency Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 1 Running Head: Empirical Work on Cultural Selection Empirical Work on Cultural Selection Eivind Haukaas Akershus University College Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 2 Abstract Viewing cultural change as a selection process the author sought empirical evidence on cultural selection. Drawing on theory from the field of radical behaviorism and in particular the theoretical work of Sigrid S. Glenn; cultural selection was defined as a selection process working on behavior in the form of culturo behavior lineages (CBL), and interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBC). The articles discussed here are written by scholars from a wide range of academic fields. The author interpreted the articles utilizing the framework of Glenn. Evidence supports the theoretical assumptions of cultural selection. The author concludes that future experimental research on cultural selection should use arbitrary variables and emphasize the culture-environment relation. Keywords: cultural selection, cultural evolution, cultural change, culture, selection Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 3 Human culture takes on many forms and has implications for all of us. It can change in front of our eyes like fashion changes with the season, while norms and values, on the other hand, can remain largely the same over generations. The nature of cultural change is an issue investigated by many fields of science and with different frameworks (e.g. Efferson, Lalive, Richerson, McElreath, & Lubell, 2008; Ehrlich & Levin, 2005; Mesoudi, 2008). Theoretical overviews are plentiful and arguments are largely theoretical about the nature of the change process and the entities involved (Baum, 2000; Nelson, 2004; Walter, 2007). The present paper treats cultural change as an evolutionary process, a selection of cultural behavior (Glenn, 1991). Researchers inspired by the success of biology in explaining evolutionary change in natural selection are especially inclined to take this view, and utilize concepts and methods commonly applied to the study of natural selection in the study of culture. This paper reviews select literature looking for empirical evidence supporting the theoretical assumption that cultural behavior is selected for by its environment, as described by Sigrid S. Glenn (1988, 1991, 2003). No review of empirical work within this framework was found. Empirical articles are interpreted within the framework outlined by Glenn. Empirical articles included are matched to the concepts defined in this article. Some empirical work will fit these definitions better than others, but all included works shed some light on the process of cultural selection. Of particular interest are: groups or individuals replaced to mimic the effect of generations; measurements of a replicated property of cultural behavior; and how individual behavior contribute to group behavior when only group behavior bring the individuals into contact with environmental contingencies. The method employed by the author to find relevant articles was a search in relevant databases. Search words for online search: Cultural selection, cultural transmission and cultural evolution. The author further sought for relevant articles in references from the articles matching the search. In addition to the online search the following online journals of Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 4 specific interest were subjected to a manual search: Evolution and Human Behavior and Behavior and social Issues. Issues from the year 2000 to present were screened, and by reading abstracts, relevant articles sought. The articles included are arranged chronologically. Definitions Radical Behaviorism Radical behaviorism is a philosophy of science; it is a set of ideas about the science of behavior. The science of behavior is behavior analysis. A behavior analyst tries to find lawfulness in relations between the environment and the behavior of organisms. Two major classes of behavior can be distinguished: respondent and operant. The distinguishing feature is the relation to the environment. Respondent behaviors are behavioral responses made available to the organism by natural selection: these behaviors are elicited by a preceding stimulus in a stimulus-response relation. Responses come under control of novel stimuli through respondent conditioning. Operant behavior is defined by the relation between the behavior and the environmental consequences following the behavior. The capacity for operant behavior is considered an evolved trait. Natural selection favors organisms able to survive in their environment. Operant behavior is said to operate on the environment to produce favorable consequences. The role of a stimulus preceding the response is that of context e.g.: when rain occurs (stimulus), I will open my umbrella (response) and remain dry (consequence). The preceding stimulus does not elicit a response but can increase the likelihood of a response following the stimulus, this is called stimulus control. The rain does not make me open my umbrella, staying dry (as a consequence of opening my umbrella) makes the behavior more likely in the context of rain. Consequences can either have the effect of increasing or decreasing the frequency of the response: reinforcement or punishment respectively. These three terms stimulus response consequence are called a behavioral Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 5 contingency. Most behavioral scientists believe that the time interval has to be short for the contingency to function as a behavioral control. Stimuli in operant behavior are called discriminative stimuli; this means that a particular behavioral response occurs significantly more frequent after a particular stimulus. Discrimination occurs because of previous history of reinforcement. Cultural behavior is functionally the same as operant behavior (Skinner, 1984). Unlike operant behavior most cultural responses rely on compound discrimination (Baum, 2005). Thinking about culture usually makes us think of art, books or music. These are unquestionably among our greatest achievements but not the only meaning of culture. There are many different ways of defining what culture is. Common to all definitions are the notion that one person alone cannot be a culture, it takes two (or more). These people share some common features in most definitions of culture, e.g. living in the same area. Culture is here taken to be the behavior that is established and maintained on account of belonging to a social group (Baum, 2000). Many writers have focused on the reason why humans have the ability to form cultures and not animals. Some trait may be necessary for human cultural behavior: sensitivity to stimuli from other humans (newborn babies can tell human faces apart), the ability to imitate and the ability to react to social reinforcement (smiles, attention, frowns etc.) could be crucial traits (Baum, 2000, 2005). Animals can imitate and their behavior may resemble human cultural behavior, this can be referred to as preculture (Glenn, 2003) or imitation-only culture (Baum, 2005). Humans are able to speak; this gives us the ability to instruct. Learning complex behaviors from our social environment is a distinguishing feature of human culture: Verbal instruction makes us able to access information on environmental contingencies without experiencing these contingencies ourselves. Language gives an individual the ability to store information and make use of it rapidly if needed: reinforcing the cultural behavior of the individual. Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 6 Behavior analysts study how the environment of an organism influences that organism s behavior (Skinner, 1953). Behavior changes when the contingencies of reinforcement are changed: Causality is always sought in the environment. Cultural behavior is no exception of this general rule, but is seen as a product of the special contingencies maintained by an evolved social environment (Skinner, 1981, p. 55). There is, however, a matter of defining what separates individual behavior from cultural behavior. Using the framework of Glenn two forms of cultural behavior can be discerned. The first form of behavior, culturo-behavioral lineages (CBL), is behavior learned by imitating, modeling or given as contingency specifying stimuli (CSS) by the social group. CSS alter the function of other stimuli: e.g. hunters might in the presence of a large prey animal flee or do nothing, the social environment may provide CSS that alter the context of large prey animal, the hunters deploy in a agreed upon formation and start a hunt. In depth discussion and description of CSSs can be found in Blakely and Schlinger (1987) and Schlinger and Blakely (1987). In the present context CSSs can be thought of as rules or instructions, and may function as a means of inheritance in cultural selection. CBL depends on group membership although behavior in this form does not require collaboration. As an example, a group of hunters may provide the CSS: you will find rabbits if you hunt in the southern part of the forest. The CSS describe a contingency that does not require more than one individual behaving, but the CCS is available on account of group membership. Individuals are copying contingencies from their social environment. CBL s are behavioral lineages, formed when a member copies the behavior of another member of a group. Every instance of rabbit hunting is an environmental interaction and the behavior is discriminated as in operant learning, albeit the learning history is not one individual s history but the history of the group. The second kind of cultural behavior involves more than one individual behaving to make contact with the relevant environmental contingencies. Behaviors that require several individuals interacting as a Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 7 cohesive whole to make contact with the environmental contingencies are denoted interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBC). As an example a group of hunters can hunt together; the hunters may have different roles, like drivers and catchers. One individual drives an animal towards another member of the hunting group waiting at an agreed upon location. This behavior must be coordinated amongst the members of the group and the individual behavior (waiting or driving) cannot make contact with the environmental consequences (catching the rabbit after a chase). Selection Defining selection is an endeavor undertaken at length by numerous other writers. The definition used here is: Repeated cycles of replication, variation and environmental interaction so structured that environmental interaction causes replication to be differential (Hull, 2001). Cultural change is seen as a selection process that develops cultural lineages of behavior. Causality is always placed in the environment in a selection process, this also holds true for cultural selection. Unlike natural selection, where the environment selecting is blind, social environments may be designed. In fact many cultural behaviors are selected only by cultural environments, as an example office workers are promoted when certain criteria have been met. The criteria are created by leaders behaving according to culturally determined criteria, and the workers have to behave under cultural contingencies to be promoted. Within the field of radical behaviorism two levels of selection influencing behavior are recognized in addition to cultural selection: phylogenic- and ontological selection. First level of selection. Phylogenic selection is the most widely known selection process, commonly known as natural selection. This is the process where genomes are selected for, by their environment through time, on the basis of their phenotypic trait (Dawkins, 1978). The genome is the replicated entity, replication occurs when parents pass on genetic material to their offspring. Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 8 Genes are said to have phenotypic effects on the organism, this effect on the organism is the environmental interaction. The organism is the vehicle for the genes, a survival machine that bring the genes on to the next generation. Only the genes within an organism able to pass on its genetic material are replicated, this give rise to adaptation at the population level. A population will after several generations have a higher number of organisms possessing genes selected for by the environment. Variation stems from processes such as recombination and mutation as well as other processes. One major difference between cultural selection and natural selection is the time scale. Natural selection operates on the genetic material over a very long time scale: Variation in natural selection is not affected by the environment in one individual s lifespan. It requires a considerable amount of time to see the effect of this kind of selection, whereas the behavior of an individual can change within seconds of experiencing an environmental consequence, or having the contingency described as a CSS. Second level of selection. Ontological selection refers to an individual s learning history, and the process of selection works on the individual s operant behavior (Skinner, 1984). The operant behavior of an individual is selected by the environmental consequences: The environmental consequence of the behavior cause a change in the probability of the behavior s future occurrence in the particular individual (Catania, 2007). Ontological selection is denoted the second level of selection as the species must first have evolved and operant behavior must be an evolved trait of the organism behaving. An operant has properties (e.g. duration, force and latency) that are measurable and are selected upon by the environment. Variation is a property of an operant, all operants exhibits some variation, and the amount of variation in an operant lineage can be controlled by contingent reinforcement (Page & Neuringer, 1985). Selection requires cycles of environmental interaction: Environmental interaction occurs every time properties of the operant behavior are either reinforced or punished. Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 9 Third level of selection. The third level of selection is the result of several individual s operant behavior; it is less understood and thus less formalized. The interaction is still a response but this response is not only a part of a single individual s behavioral repertoire but also a group s behavioral repertoire (Glenn, 1991; Skinner, 1984). The nature of the response in a CBL follows ontological selection, with one clear exception: the stimulus preceding the response is dependent on group membership (e.g. understanding the language the rule is given in). Discriminating social stimuli of a group is the result of ontological selection, and the social environment reinforces such behavior. The environmental interaction of the IBC is that of an interlocking chain of individual responses. The chain only interacts with its environment, the environment reinforcing or punishing the behavior, when the whole chain can be considered one response. Properties are replicated differentially to produce cultural lineages. Every organism has a lot of uncommitted behavior inherently (e.g. when a baby moves at first) and some behavior that is more organized, e.g. a fish can swim when born (Skinner, 1984, p. 219). These behaviors form the early history of all operant lineages: as aquatic life forms are ancestors of all vertebrates. Cultural lineages are considered functionally alike to operant lineages. The third level of selection is referred to as cultural selection, applying the definition of culture above in this context gives a selection process that may operate on groups. Group selection though is a concept from biology and refers to how group level mechanisms can be included in phylogenic selection, thus group survival. The group is seen as a vehicle, a mean to differentially replicate genetic material (Wilson & Sober, 1994). Group selection can explain why we form groups. Cultural selection on the other hand can explain our behavior as groups: operant behavior comes under control of contingencies only available at the level of the group. Behaving as a group is selected for when doing so is reinforced to a larger degree than behaving alone. It is the effect on the group, not the reinforcing Empirical Work on Cultural Selection 10 consequences for individual members, which is responsible for the evolution of culture (Skinner, 1981 p. 502). CBL s and IBC s form contingencies with the environment called macrocontingencies and metacontingencies respectively. Macrocontingencies arise when the aggregate of several individuals behave similarly like in CBL. As an example, in a group that hunts mammoths several individuals have to drive the mammoth towards a trap. Their behavior is screaming and making movements that frighten the creature so that it moves in the desired direction. Such behavior is imitated,
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