Tag Archives: social networks

Innovation and the Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain at the Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California Merced

I was invited to speak at University of California Merced‘s Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences as part of the Mind, Technology, and Society Invited Speaker series.

I presented a recent paper on the Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain. The most relevant papers are:

  1. Muthukrishna, M., Doebeli, M., Chudek, M., & Henrich, J. (2018). The Cultural Brain Hypothesis: How culture drives brain expansion, sociality, and life history. PLOS Computational Biology, 14(11): e1006504. [Download] [Supplementary] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  2. Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Telegraph] [Scientific American] [Video] [Evonomics] [LSE Business Review] [Summary Post] [Download] [Data] [Publisher]
  3. Schimmelpfennig, R., Razek, L., Schnell, E., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. [Download] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]

Are Collectivist Cultures More Prone to Rapid Transformation? at the Collectivism, Social Change and Collective Problems Symposium, Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention 2022

I presented my paper on “Are Collectivist Cultures More Prone to Rapid Transformation?” at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention 2022, San Francisco, CA. It was part of a symposium on “Collectivism, Social Change, and Collective Problems” organized by Suyi Leong and Heejung Kim.

Are Collectivistic Cultures More Prone to Rapid Transformation? Computational Models of Cross-Cultural Differences, Social Network Structure, Dynamic Social Influence, and Cultural Change

Summary from Twitter thread:

New paper in Personality and Social Psychology Review (PSPR): Societies more susceptible to social learning (e.g. China) more culturally stable, but also more susceptible to rapid transformation. Punctuated cultural equilibrium. Models differences in cross-cultural social networks and influence. Why? 1/3


Consider Majority illusion (Blue Fashionable will be perceived as majority view due to social network structure).

Some societies more likely to conform. Under most conditions, conforming to the majority leads to stability, but… 2/3

A well connected ideologue taking advantage of that conformity leads to rapid social change.

In a less well connected society with fewer conformists, too many leaders, not enough followers making it harder for one to dominate and kickstart a country-wide revolution. 3/3

Cultural Brain Hypothesis, Cultural Evolution & Human Social Networks at Stanford University, California

This week I visited Stanford University, California. Jamie Holland Jones invited me to present my research on human evolution, cultural evolution, and social networks at the Stanford Anthropology Colloquium Series. I presented three related projects:

The Cultural Brain Hypothesis (in prep; co-authored with Maciek Chudek and Joe Henrich), describes the evolution of large brains and parsimoniously explains several empirical relationships between brain size, group size, social learning, mating structures, culture, and the juvenile period. The model also describes the selection pressures that may have led humans into the realm of cumulative cultural evolution, further driving up the human brain size.

Sociality Influences Cultural Complexity (2014; co-authored with Ben Shulman, Vlad Vasilescu, and Joe Henrich) on the relationship between sociality and cultural complexity.

Cultural Dispositions, Social Networks, and the Dynamics of Social Influence: Implications for Public Opinion and Cultural Change (under review; co-authored with Mark Schaller) describes a mechanism through which realistic human social network structures can emerge and the implications of these mechanisms for cross-cultural differences in cultural transmission and innovation.

Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Conference in Austin, Texas

I attended the 15th Annual Meeting of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) in Austin, Texas. I presented a model at the Dynamical Systems and Computational Modeling in Social Psychology preconference. The model uses two principles of human decision making to produce the three key properties of human social networks – high clustering (a friend of a friend is likely your friend), low characteristic path length (“6 degrees of separation”), and a positively skewed degree distribution (most people have a few friends, but a few people have many friends).

My collaborator and advisor, Mark Schaller, presented a related model at a symposium on “The Role of Interpersonal Processes in Group Phenomena and Cultural Development”. The model presented some preliminary research using the model I presented to better understand the dynamics of social influence within social networks.

Sante Fe Institute Workshop on Network Structure, Political Hierarchy and Economic Inequality

I was invited to a workshop on Network Structure, Political Hierarchy and Economic Inequality at the Sante Fe Institute. The workshop, organized by Sam Bowles and Paul Hooper, brought together leading contributors to the theoretical literature on social networks, anthropologists and other field researchers using network techniques to study the social structure of small-scale societies. I had the opportunity to discuss social network analysis and its application to the study of social structures and culture with several lead social network researchers, including Matt Jackson and Rajiv Sethi.

The project is part of the Santa Fe Institute’s Dynamics of Wealth Inequality Project.