Mesoudi, A. (2011) Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian theory can explain human culture and synthesize the social sciences. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

“a terrific new book [that] gives an accessible, authoritative survey of this burgeoning field”—Rob Boyd, Arizona State University, in Trends in Ecology and Evolution
“a valuable book [that] elegantly encapsulates the state of the art in what is shown to be a mature field of enquiry”—Tim Lewens, University of Cambridge, in Biology and Philosophy
“For just over a quarter century, scattered groups of renegade evolutionary social scientists have been quietly hammering away in the remote corners of anthropology, archaeology, biology, psychology, and economics to forge a fully Darwinian approach to culture. In elegantly assembling and synthesizing these disparate and often highly technical efforts, Mesoudi has turned on the lights and put out the welcome mat: the interdisciplinary science of culture for the twenty-first century is open for business.”—Joseph Henrich, Harvard University

Journal articles

Click on a paper to download the pdf

E = empirical study with original data, R = review article, M = theoretical model, OA = open access, no paywall on publisher's website. Links to data are provided where possible.


Magid, K., Sarkol, V. & Mesoudi, A. (2017) Experimental priming of independent and interdependent activity does not affect culturally-variable psychological processes. Royal Society Open Science 4: 161025. E / OA / data

Mesoudi, A. (2017) Pursuing Darwin's curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. R / OA


Acerbi, A., Tennie, C. & Mesoudi, A. (2016) Social learning solves the problem of narrow-peaked search landscapes: experimental evidence in humans. Royal Society Open Science 3: 160215. E / OA / data

Mesoudi, A., Magid, K. & Hussain, D. (2016) How do people become W.E.I.R.D.? Migration reveals the cultural transmission mechanisms underlying variation in psychological processes. PLOS ONE 11(1), e0147162. E / OA / data

Reyes-García, V., Balbo, A.L., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Gueze, M., Mesoudi, A., Richerson, P.J., Rubio-Campillo, X., Ruiz-Mallén, I., Shennan, S.J. (2016) Multilevel processes and cultural adaptation: Examples from past and present small-scale societies. Ecology and Society 21:2. R

Schillinger, K., Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2016) Copying error, evolution, and phylogenetic signal in artifactual traditions: an experimental approach using "model artifacts". Journal of Archaeological Science 70, 23-34. E

Schillinger, K., Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2016) Differences in manufacturing traditions and assemblage-level patterns: The origins of cultural differences in archaeological data. Journal of Archaeological Methods and Theory. E

Mesoudi, A., Chang, L., Dall, S.X. & Thornton, A. (2016) The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31(3) 215-225. R

Whiten, A., Caldwell, C.A. & Mesoudi, A. (2016) Cultural diffusion in humans and other animals. Current Opinion in Psychology 8, 15-21. R

Lycett, S.J., Schillinger, K., Eren, M.I., von Cramon-Taubadel, N., Mesoudi, A. (2016) Factors affecting Acheulean handaxe variation: Experimental insights, microevolutionary processes, and macroevolutionary outcomes. Quaternary International 411, 386-401. R

Mesoudi, A. (2016) Cultural evolution: Integrating psychology, evolution and culture. Current Opinion in Psychology 7, 17-22. R

Mesoudi, A. (2016) Cultural evolution: A review of theory, findings and controversies. Evolutionary Biology 43, 481-497. R


Mesoudi, A., Chang, L., Murray, K. & Lu, H.J. (2015) Higher frequency of social learning in China than in the West shows cultural variation in the dynamics of cultural evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 282, 20142209. E / OA / data and also a Bayesian reanalysis (pdf / Rmd)

Priestley, M. & Mesoudi, A. (2015) Do online voting patterns reflect evolved features of human cognition? An exploratory empirical investigation. PLOS ONE 10(6), e0129703. E / OA / data

Schillinger, K., Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2015) The impact of imitative versus emulative learning mechanisms on artifactual variation: implications for the evolution of material culture. Evolution and Human Behavior 36, 446–455. E

Acerbi, A. & Mesoudi, A. (2015) If we are all cultural Darwinians what's the fuss about? Clarifying recent disagreements in the field of cultural evolution. Biology & Philosophy 30:481–503. R


Kempe, M., Lycett, S.J. & Mesoudi, A. (2014) From cultural traditions to cumulative culture: parameterizing the differences between human and nonhuman culture. Journal of Theoretical Biology 359, 29-36. M

Schillinger, K., Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2014) Considering the role of time budgets on copy-error rates in material culture traditions: An experimental assessment. PLOS ONE 9(5) e97157 E / OA

Kempe, M. & Mesoudi, A. (2014) An experimental demonstration of the effect of group size on cultural accumulation. Evolution and Human Behavior 35, 285-290. E

Kempe, M. & Mesoudi, A. (2014) Experimental and theoretical models of human cultural evolution. WIREs Cognitive Science 5, 317-326. R

Schillinger, K., Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2014) Copying error and the cultural evolution of 'additive' versus 'reductive' material traditions: an experimental assessment. American Antiquity 79(1), 128-143. E


Pitcher, B., Mesoudi, A. & McElligott, A.G. (2013) Sex-biased sound symbolism in English-language first names. PLOS ONE 8(6): e64825. E / OA

Mesoudi, A., Blanchet, S., Charmantier, A., Danchin, E., Fogarty, L., Jablonka, E., Laland, K.N., Morgan T.J.H., Müller, G.B., Odling-Smee, F. J., Pujol, B. (2013) Is non-genetic inheritance just a proximate mechanism? A corroboration of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Biological Theory 7(3) R


Kempe, M., Lycett, S.J. & Mesoudi, A. (2012). An experimental test of the accumulated copying error model of cultural mutation for Acheulean handaxe size. PLOS ONE 7(11): e48333. E / OA

Atkisson, C., O'Brien, M.J. & Mesoudi, A. (2012). Adult learners in a novel environment use prestige-biased social learning. Evolutionary Psychology 10(3), 519-537. E / OA


Danchin, E., Charmantier, A., Champagne, F.A., Mesoudi, A., Pujol, B., Blanchet, S. (2011). Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics, 12, 475-486. R

Mesoudi, A. (2011) Variable cultural acquisition costs constrain cumulative cultural evolution. PLoS ONE 6, e18239. M / OA

Mesoudi, A. (2011) An experimental comparison of human social learning strategies: Payoff-biased social learning is adaptive but under-used. Evolution and Human Behavior 32, 334-342. E

Mesoudi, A. (2011) Culture and the Darwinian Renaissance in the social sciences and humanities. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 9(2), 109-124. R

Mesoudi, A., McElligott, A. & Adger, D. (2011) Integrating genetic and cultural evolutionary approaches to language. Human Biology, 83(2), 141-151. R


O'Brien, M.J., Lyman, R.L., Mesoudi, A. & VanPool, T.L. (2010) Cultural traits as units of analysis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365, 3797-3806. R

Mesoudi, A., Veldhuis, D. & Foley, R.A. (2010) Why aren't the social sciences Darwinian? Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8(2), 93-104. R

Mesoudi, A. (2010) Evolutionary synthesis in the social sciences and humanities. Cultural Science 3(1). R / OA


Mesoudi, A. (2009) How cultural evolutionary theory can inform social psychology, and vice versa. Psychological Review, 116(4), 929-952. R

Mesoudi, A. (2009) The cultural dynamics of copycat suicide. PLoS ONE, 4(9), e7252. M / OA

Mesoudi, A. & Lycett, S.J. (2009) Random copying, frequency-dependent copying and culture change. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(1), 41-48. M


Mesoudi, A. & O’Brien, M.J. (2008) The learning and transmission of hierarchical cultural recipes. Biological Theory, 3(1), 63-72. M

Danielson, P., Mesoudi, A. & Stanev, R. (2008) N.E.R.D. and norms: Framework and experiments. Philosophy of Science 75(5), 786-798. R

Mesoudi, A. & Whiten, A. (2008) The multiple roles of cultural transmission experiments in understanding human cultural evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 363, 3489-3501. R

Whiten, A. & Mesoudi, A. (2008) Establishing an experimental science of culture: animal social diffusion experiments. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 363, 3477-3488. R

Mesoudi, A. & O'Brien, M.J. (2008) The cultural transmission of Great Basin projectile point technology II: An agent-based computer simulation. American Antiquity, 73(4), 627-644. M

Mesoudi, A. (2008) An experimental simulation of the "copy-successful-individuals" cultural learning strategy: Adaptive landscapes, producer-scrounger dynamics and informational access costs. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29(5), 350-363. E

Mesoudi, P. & Danielson, P. (2008) Ethics, evolution and culture. Theory in Biosciences, 127(3), 229-240. R

Mesoudi, A. (2008) Foresight in cultural evolution. Biology and Philosophy 23(2), 243-255. R

Mesoudi, A. & O'Brien, M.J. (2008) The cultural transmission of Great Basin projectile point technology I: An experimental simulation. American Antiquity 73(1), 3-28. E


Mesoudi, A. (2007) A Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can promote an evolutionary synthesis for the social sciences. Biological Theory 2(3), 263-275. R

Mesoudi, A. (2007) Biological and cultural evolution: Similar but different. Biological Theory 2(2), 119-123. R

Mesoudi, A. & Laland, K.N. (2007) Culturally transmitted paternity beliefs and the evolution of human mating behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274, 1273-1278. M

Mesoudi, A. (2007) Using the methods of experimental social psychology to study cultural evolution. Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology 1(2), 35-58. R


Mesoudi, A., Whiten, A. & Dunbar, R. (2006) A bias for social information in human cultural transmission. British Journal of Psychology 97(3), 405-423. E / data

Mesoudi, A., Whiten, A. & Laland, K.N. (2006) Towards a unified science of cultural evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29(4), 329-383. R


Mesoudi, A., Whiten, A. & Laland, K.N. (2004). Is human cultural evolution Darwinian? Evidence reviewed from the perspective of The Origin of Species. Evolution, 58(1), 1-11. R

Mesoudi, A. & Whiten, A. (2004). The hierarchical transformation of event knowledge in human cultural transmission. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 4(1), 1-24. E

Book chapters

Mesoudi, A. (in press) The study of culture and evolution across disciplines. In Workman, L., Reader, W. & Barkow, J. (Eds) Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mesoudi, A. (in press) Cultural evolution and cultural psychology. In Kitayama, S. & Cohen, D. (Eds.) Handbook of Cultural Psychology 2nd edition. Guilford Press.

O’Brien, M.J., Buchanan, B., Boulanger, M.T., Mesoudi, A., Collard, M., Bentley, R.A., & Lyman,R.L. (2015) Transmission of cultural variants in the North American Paleolithic. In Aoki, K. & Mesoudi, A. (Eds.) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic (Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series Vol. 3). Osaka: Springer Japan.

Aoki, K. & Mesoudi, A. (2015) Introduction. In Aoki, K. & Mesoudi, A. (Eds.) Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic (Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series Vol. 3). Osaka: Springer Japan.

Lycett, S.J., Schilllinger, K., Kempe, M. & Mesoudi, A. (2015). Learning in the Acheulean: Insights from experiments using handaxe form as a “model organism.” In Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Paleolithic (Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series Vol. 3), edited by A. Mesoudi & K. Aoki, pp.155-166. Osaka: Springer Japan.

Mesoudi, A. (2014) Experimental studies of modern human social and individual learning in an archaeological context: People behave adaptively, but within limits. In Dynamics of Learning in Neanderthals and Modern Humans: Cognitive and Physical Perspectives (Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series), edited by T. Akazawa. Osaka: Springer Japan.

Mesoudi, A., Laland, K.N., Boyd, R., Buchanan, B., Flynn, E., McCauley, R.N., Renn, J., Reyes-Garcia, V., Shennan, S.J., Stout, D., Tennie, C. (2013) The cultural evolution of technology and science. In Cultural Evolution, a Strungmann Forum Report, edited by M.H. Christiansen & P.J. Richerson. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mesoudi, A. (2013). Studying cultural transmission within an interdisciplinary cultural evolutionary framework. In: Cultural Transmission: A Critical Anthropological Synthesis, edited by R. Ellen, S. J. Lycett & S.J. Johns. Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books.

Mesoudi, A. & Jensen, K. (2012). Culture and the evolution of human sociality. In: The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology, edited by J. Vonk & T. Shackelford. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Mesoudi, A. (2010) Studying cultural innovation in the psychology lab. In Cultural Innovation: Contributions from Evolutionary Anthropology, edited by M.J. O’Brien and S.J. Shennan (pp.175-191). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mesoudi, A. & O'Brien, M.J. (2009) Placing archaeology within a unified science of cultural evolution. In Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, edited by S.J. Shennan (pp. 21-32). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mesoudi, A. (2008) The experimental study of cultural transmission and its potential for explaining archaeological data. In Cultural Transmission and Archaeology: Issues and Case Studies, edited by M.J. O'Brien. Washington, D.C.: Society for American Archaeology Press. 

Short articles / comments

Mesoudi, A. (2017) Subsistence and social learning. Nature Human Behaviour 1:0110 (News and Views piece on Glowacki & Molleman, Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies)

Henrich J., Boyd R., Derex M., Kline M.A., Mesoudi A., Muthukrishna M., Powell A.T., Shennan S.J. & Thomas M.G. 2016. Understanding cumulative cultural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113:E6724-E6725.

Ellis, E., Richerson, P.J., Mesoudi, A., Svenning, J-C, Odling-Smee, J., Burnside, W.R. (2016) Evolving the human niche. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113:E4436.

Mesoudi, A. (2016) Cultural evolution and the Anthropocene. Social Evolution Forum.

Mesoudi, A. (2014) Cultural evolution in more than two dimensions: distinguishing social learning biases and identifying payoff structures. Commentary on Bentley, R.A., O’Brien, M.J. & Brock, W., Mapping collective behavior in the big data era. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37(1) 91-92.

Mesoudi, A. (2013) Mass shooting and mass media: Does media coverage of mass shootings inspire copycat crimes? The International Human Press

Mesoudi, A. (2007) Extended evolutionary theory makes human culture more amenable to evolutionary analysis. Commentary on Jablonka, E. & Lamb, M. J., Précis of Evolution in Four Dimensions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30(4), 374.

Mesoudi, A. (2007) Has mental time travel really affected human culture? Commentary on Suddendorf, T. & Corballis, M. C. The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel and is it unique to humans? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30(3), 326-327.

Mesoudi, A., Whiten, A. & Laland, K.N. (2007) Science, evolution and cultural anthropology. Anthropology Today 22, p.18. (A response to Ingold [2007] The trouble with "evolutionary biology")

Mesoudi, A. & Laland, K.N. (2007) Extending the behavioral sciences framework: clarification of methods, predictions and concepts. Commentary on H. Gintis, A framework for the unification of the behavioral sciences, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30(1), 36-37.