The spontaneous emergence of conventions: An experimental study of cultural evolution

Centola, D. & Baronchelli, A. (2015). The spontaneous emergence of conventions: An experimental study of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 112(7), pp. 1989-1994. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418838112

[img]
Preview
PDF - Accepted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

How do shared conventions emerge in complex decentralized social systems? This question engages fields as diverse as linguistics, sociology, and cognitive science. Previous empirical attempts to solve this puzzle all presuppose that formal or informal institutions, such as incentives for global agreement, coordinated leadership, or aggregated information about the population, are needed to facilitate a solution. Evolutionary theories of social conventions, by contrast, hypothesize that such institutions are not necessary in order for social conventions to form. However, empirical tests of this hypothesis have been hindered by the difficulties of evaluating the real-time creation of new collective behaviors in large decentralized populations. Here, we present experimental results-replicated at several scales-that demonstrate the spontaneous creation of universally adopted social conventions and show how simple changes in a population's network structure can direct the dynamics of norm formation, driving human populations with no ambition for large scale coordination to rapidly evolve shared social conventions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: complex systems, empirical testing, network science, social conventions, spontaneous emergence
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Divisions: School of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences > Department of Mathematical Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/6625

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics