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1 July 2015 Inference of Cultural Transmission Modes Based on Incomplete Information
Bryan Wilder, Anne Kandler
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Abstract

In this article we explore the theoretical limits of the inference of cultural transmission modes based on sparse population-level data. We approach this problem by investigating whether different transmission modes produce different temporal dynamics of cultural change. In particular, we explore whether different transmission modes result in sufficiently different distributions of the average time a variant stays the most common variant in the population, tmax, so that their inference can be guaranteed on the basis of an estimate of tmax. We assume time series data detailing the frequencies of different variants of a cultural trait in a population at different points in time and investigate the temporal resolution (i.e., the length of the time series and the distance between consecutive time points) that is needed to ensure distinguishability between transmission modes. We find that under complete information most transmission modes can be distinguished on the basis of the statistic tmax; however, we should not expect the same results if only infrequent information about the most common cultural variant in the population is available.

© 2016 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201
Bryan Wilder and Anne Kandler "Inference of Cultural Transmission Modes Based on Incomplete Information," Human Biology 87(3), 193-204, (1 July 2015). https://doi.org/10.13110/humanbiology.87.3.0193
Received: 31 December 2014; Accepted: 1 June 2015; Published: 1 July 2015
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KEYWORDS
CULTURAL TRANSMISSION
sampling scheme
statistical inference
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