The evolution of culturally transmitted teaching behavior

Wataru Nakahashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


The replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans may possibly have been influenced by the different cultural transmission mechanisms of the two hominins. Since teaching is widespread in modern human societies, but extremely rare in animals, it may have played an important role in human cultural evolution. In modern humans, how and whom to teach may, in part, be transmitted culturally. Therefore, in this paper, I develop a cultural transmission model of teaching. I show that even when costly, teaching can evolve provided that teachers transmit their cultural traits more actively than non-teachers. Teaching is more likely to evolve when the cost of social learning is low relative to individual learning, social learning is accurate, the environment is stable, and the effect of teaching is extensive. Under certain conditions, two states, existence and non-existence of teaching in the population, are evolutionarily stable (bistable).When this happens, social learning is sometimesmaintained by teaching under unstable environments where social learning cannot exist without teaching. Differences in subsistence strategy and group structure between Neanderthals and modern humans may have affected the evolution of the teaching behaviors of the two hominins.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning Strategies and Cultural Evolution During the Palaeolithic
PublisherSpringer Japan
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9784431553632
ISBN (Print)9784431553625
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Bistability
  • Cultural hitchhiking
  • Culture
  • Cumulative
  • Evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of culturally transmitted teaching behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this