The evolution of frequency-dependent cultural transmission

Uri Liberman, Yoav Ram, Lee Altenberg, Marcus W. Feldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In a model of vertical and oblique cultural transmission of a dichotomous trait, the rates of transmission of each form of the trait are functions of the trait frequency in the population. Sufficient conditions on these functions are derived for a stable trait polymorphism to exist. If the vertical transmission rates are monotone decreasing functions of the trait frequency, a complete global stability analysis is presented. It is also shown that a unique protected polymorphism can be globally stable even though the sufficient conditions are not met. The evolution of frequency-dependent transmission is modeled using modifier theory, and exact conditions are derived for a transmission modifier to invade a population at a stable polymorphism. Finally, the interaction between frequency-dependent selection and frequency-dependent transmission is explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
StatePublished - Apr 2020


FundersFunder number
Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies
Stanford Center for Computational
John Templeton Foundation
Stanford University
Center for Computational, Evolutionary and Human Genomics, Stanford University


    • Frequency-dependent selection
    • Frequency-dependent transmission
    • Modifier of transmission
    • Oblique transmission
    • Vertical transmission


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