We show that the frequency distributions of cultural variants, in three different real-world examples--first names, archaeological pottery and applications for technology patents--follow power laws that can be explained by a simple model of random drift. We conclude that cultural and economic choices often reflect a decision process that is value-neutral; this result has far-reaching testable implications for social-science research.
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Jul 2004|
- cultural evolution
- random genetic drift
- first names