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Corpses, maggots, poodles and rats: A content bias for disgust in three phases of cultural transmission
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution. Mälardalen University, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution. University of Sussex, UK .
2014 (English)In: Journal of Cognition and Culture, ISSN 1567-7095, E-ISSN 1568-5373, Vol. 14, no 1-2, 1-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

AbstractIn one conception of cultural evolution, the evolutionary success of cultural units that are transmitted from individual to individual is determined by forces of cultural selection. Here we argue that it is helpful to distinguish between several distinct phases of the transmission process in which cultural selection can operate, such as a choose-to-receive phase, an encode-and-retrieve phase, and a choose-to-transmit phase. Here we focus on emotional selection in cultural transmission of urban legends, which has previously been shown to operate in the choose-to-transmit phase. In a series of experiments we studied serial transmission of stories based on urban legends manipulated to be either high or low on disgusting content. Results supported emotional selection operating in all three phases of cultural transmission. Thus, the prevalence of disgusting urban legends in North America may be explained by emotional selection through a multitude of pathways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 14, no 1-2, 1-26 p.
Keyword [en]
Corpses, maggots, poodles, rats, disgust, cultural transmission
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-101178DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12342107OAI: diva2:699675
Available from: 2014-02-28 Created: 2014-02-28 Last updated: 2015-10-12Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson, Kimmo
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