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Dual Inheritance Theory

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Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science


Culture-gene coevolution; Gene-culture coevolution; History of natural selection; Natural selection


Dual Inheritance Theory is a theoretical framework positing that human biology and behavior are influenced by two lines of inherited information: a genetic line, which all species inherit from their biological parents, and a cultural line, unique to our species, which we inherit from other members of our society.


Dual Inheritance Theory was first developed by two population geneticists (Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman 1981) and an anthropologist and an ecologist (Boyd and Richerson 1985) as a set of formal mathematical models to describe the transmission and evolution of culture – beliefs, values, behaviors, technology, and other socially transmitted knowledge possessed by societies around the world. Both pairs of scholars drew on the rich toolkit of evolutionary biology that had so nicely described the rest of the natural world, extending it to explain...

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Correspondence to Michael Muthukrishna .

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Russell, C.J., Muthukrishna, M. (2021). Dual Inheritance Theory. In: Shackelford, T.K., Weekes-Shackelford, V.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.

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