Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures

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Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures. / Acerbi, Alberto; Van Leeuwen, Edwin J C; Haun, Daniel B M; Tennie, Claudio.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 36068, 31.10.2016.

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Acerbi, Alberto ; Van Leeuwen, Edwin J C ; Haun, Daniel B M ; Tennie, Claudio. / Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures. In: Scientific Reports. 2016 ; Vol. 6.

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@article{d84342f6ebbf4f1ea950a270152a7561,
title = "Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures",
abstract = "Conformist transmission, defined as a disproportionate likelihood to copy the majority, is considered a potent mechanism underlying the emergence and stabilization of cultural diversity. However, ambiguity within and across disciplines remains as to how to identify conformist transmission empirically. In most studies, a population level outcome has been taken as the benchmark to evidence conformist transmission: a sigmoidal relation between individuals' probability to copy the majority and the proportional majority size. Using an individual-based model, we show that, under ecologically plausible conditions, this sigmoidal relation can also be detected without equipping individuals with a conformist bias. Situations in which individuals copy randomly from a fixed subset of demonstrators in the population, or in which they have a preference for one of the possible variants, yield similar sigmoidal patterns as a conformist bias would. Our findings warrant a revisiting of studies that base their conformist transmission conclusions solely on the sigmoidal curve. More generally, our results indicate that population level outcomes interpreted as conformist transmission could potentially be explained by other individual-level strategies, and that more empirical support is needed to prove the existence of an individual-level conformist bias in human and other animals.",
author = "Alberto Acerbi and {Van Leeuwen}, {Edwin J C} and Haun, {Daniel B M} and Claudio Tennie",
year = "2016",
month = oct,
day = "31",
doi = "10.1038/srep36068",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
journal = "Scientific Reports",
issn = "2045-2322",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Conformity cannot be identified based on population-level signatures

AU - Acerbi, Alberto

AU - Van Leeuwen, Edwin J C

AU - Haun, Daniel B M

AU - Tennie, Claudio

PY - 2016/10/31

Y1 - 2016/10/31

N2 - Conformist transmission, defined as a disproportionate likelihood to copy the majority, is considered a potent mechanism underlying the emergence and stabilization of cultural diversity. However, ambiguity within and across disciplines remains as to how to identify conformist transmission empirically. In most studies, a population level outcome has been taken as the benchmark to evidence conformist transmission: a sigmoidal relation between individuals' probability to copy the majority and the proportional majority size. Using an individual-based model, we show that, under ecologically plausible conditions, this sigmoidal relation can also be detected without equipping individuals with a conformist bias. Situations in which individuals copy randomly from a fixed subset of demonstrators in the population, or in which they have a preference for one of the possible variants, yield similar sigmoidal patterns as a conformist bias would. Our findings warrant a revisiting of studies that base their conformist transmission conclusions solely on the sigmoidal curve. More generally, our results indicate that population level outcomes interpreted as conformist transmission could potentially be explained by other individual-level strategies, and that more empirical support is needed to prove the existence of an individual-level conformist bias in human and other animals.

AB - Conformist transmission, defined as a disproportionate likelihood to copy the majority, is considered a potent mechanism underlying the emergence and stabilization of cultural diversity. However, ambiguity within and across disciplines remains as to how to identify conformist transmission empirically. In most studies, a population level outcome has been taken as the benchmark to evidence conformist transmission: a sigmoidal relation between individuals' probability to copy the majority and the proportional majority size. Using an individual-based model, we show that, under ecologically plausible conditions, this sigmoidal relation can also be detected without equipping individuals with a conformist bias. Situations in which individuals copy randomly from a fixed subset of demonstrators in the population, or in which they have a preference for one of the possible variants, yield similar sigmoidal patterns as a conformist bias would. Our findings warrant a revisiting of studies that base their conformist transmission conclusions solely on the sigmoidal curve. More generally, our results indicate that population level outcomes interpreted as conformist transmission could potentially be explained by other individual-level strategies, and that more empirical support is needed to prove the existence of an individual-level conformist bias in human and other animals.

U2 - 10.1038/srep36068

DO - 10.1038/srep36068

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84993983961

VL - 6

JO - Scientific Reports

JF - Scientific Reports

SN - 2045-2322

M1 - 36068

ER -