Associate Professor in Cultural Evolution, University of Exeter

I conduct research into human cultural evolution, in which cultural change is studied as an evolutionary process, and social learning, the processes by which we learn from other people. I run lab experiments and construct theoretical models investigating human social learning biases - who learns what, from whom, when and why - and how these generate and maintain large-scale cultural change and diversity. Many of these experiments and models have examined past human technology, aiming to explain change and diversity in artifacts such as arrowheads or handaxes. Other work has looked at why only humans appear to possess cumulative cultural evolution, where knowledge is accumulated over successive generations. I have also looked at contemporary phenomena related to social learning such as copycat suicide. More recently I have been studying migrant communities, using immigration as a natural experiment for identifying the drivers of inter-generational cultural change and stasis.

Experience

  • –present
    Associate Professor in Cultural Evolution, University of Exeter