Robert J. MacCoun

Stanford University

Psychologists have long studied the ways in which individuals draw inferences from evidence in their environment, and the conditions under which individuals forgo or ignore those inferences and instead conform to the choices of their peers. Recently, anthropologists and biologists have given considerable attention to the ways in which these two processes intersect to jointly shape culture. In this paper I extend the BOP (“burden of (social) proof”; MacCoun, 2012) analysis of “strength in numbers” with a parallel account of “strength in arguments,” and examine ways the two processes might be linked. I compare these models to some leading accounts of individual learning and social transmission, suggesting opportunities for a closer integration of theory and research on cultural evolution across anthropology, biology, and psychology.