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date: 14 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Social transmission is critical for any definition, because it creates heritability, the passing on of traits to the next generation, in a fundamentally new way: through behavioural induction rather than genetic prescription. This definition is broad enough to encompass both animal and human culture, without of course denying the abyss that separates human culture from that of animals. This article examines the mechanism of social transmission, social learning, as well as the source of culture, innovation, and aspects of evolution. Social learning does not need to involve copying of behaviour patterns, because the naïve animal often invents the same new behavioural skills independently. Some forms, however, do involve direct observation: copying of goals or outcomes, often referred to as emulation, or of the actual actions, usually called imitation, or some mix.

Keywords: social transmission, traits, animal, human, culture, social learning, innovation, evolution, behaviour

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