Understanding culture across species

Richard W. Byrne, Philip J. Barnard, Iain Davidson, Vincent M. Janik, William C. McGrew, Ádam Miklósi, Polly Wiessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent claims of culture in great apes have provoked fervent argument about the 'true' definition of culture, most of which has been unhelpful. Instead, a range of definitions should be used to explore different aspects of the cognitive processes that together result in human culture, many of which can be productively studied in non-humans. A richer cognitive account of the contents of culture needs to be developed and used to compare animal and human cultures, instead of sterile searching for a cognitive Rubicon between them. Exploring six views of culture, this article highlights the fundamental contrast of whether culture evolves as a by-product of cumulative change in cognitive mechanisms, or whether it is actively selected for its advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Byrne, R. W., Barnard, P. J., Davidson, I., Janik, V. M., McGrew, W. C., Miklósi, Á., & Wiessner, P. (2004). Understanding culture across species. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(8), 341-346. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2004.06.002