chapter  5
Evolutionary Approaches to Culture: Maria Janicki and Dennis L. Krebs
Pages 45

The existence of human culture entails a challenge for evolutionary theorists motivated to explain human behavior. Human behavior is unique because it is influenced by both genetic and cultural information. Traditionally, social scientists have assumed that culture and the learning mechanisms through which people acquire culture constitute systems that have somehow superseded evolved dispositions in the human species. This assumption is unacceptable to evolutionary theorists, who consider the capacity for culture, along with evolved psychological mechanisms that mediate the learning and transmission of cultural information to have been naturally selected. This chapter reviews several models of the relations between biology and culture advanced by evolutionary theorists, then compares and contrasts them. To a greater or lesser extent, these models will offer answers to the following questions:

• What is the relation between biological and cultural evolution? Does culture affect biological evolution and vice versa? Do evolved dispositions give rise to or constrain culture? To what extent are cultural traits selected in terms of their contributions to individuals' inclusive fitness? Are cultural traits sometimes biologically maladaptive, and if so, why?