The Two-Stage Life Cycle of Cultural Replicators

Luke McCrohon



Other complex life cycles that include specialized memes, such as those seen in the copy-the-instructions life cycle, are thought to be worthy of further study. Multiple opportunities for memes to add specialized components to their life cycles exist, and meme specialization may find use in explaining certain aspects of linguistic and cultural behavior that currently seem puzzling. One example of such behavior is religious rituals performed in secret. Such rituals contribute little to the associated memes propagation, but can be seen to benefit the activation of an individuals associated i-memes, offering a potential adaptive advantage. Specialized memes are far easier to study as part of a multiple stage life cycle model as the relationship between different meme forms can be clearly defined. A final direction of future work is the investigation of meme replication strategies in relation to replication costs at replication and learning stages. Where meme production is relatively cheap (i.e. language use) it is expected that the sorts of replicators that succeed will differ systematically from those that succeed where production is more expensive. The life cycle model is useful in this investigation due to its implicit separation of production and learning costs, and the greater variety of reproduction strategies it can differentiate.

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