I am an Associate Professor of Cultural Evolution in the Human Behaviour and Cultural Evolution Group at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus, UK.
I study cultural evolution, the idea that cultural change – changes in beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, skills, and other socially transmitted traits – constitutes a Darwinian evolutionary process that is similar (but not identical) to biological evolution.
I use experiments to simulate cultural evolution in the lab. In these experiments people typically make and copy technological artifacts such as arrowheads or handaxes, or solve problems that resemble real-world challenges. The aim is to use simple experiments to better understand how psychological processes may have shaped real-life cultural change, past and present.
I also construct models and simulations of cultural evolution. These similarly explore how individual decisions (e.g. when and from whom people learn) translate into population-level patterns of cultural change. Recent models, and empirical work, has examined how immigrants learn from others to acculturate to the norms of their adopted society. You can read more on my Research page.