The Evolution of Sustainability by Cultural Group Selection

To achieve an environmentally sustainable society, we need durable institutions which encourage sustainable behavior. But how do sustainable institutions evolve?

We have theorized and simulated one answer: imitative group selection.

Along with colleagues Sandra Goff and Paul Smaldino, I developed a multilevel selection model of resource management institutions. We demonstrate how sustainable societies emerge via imitative group selection. When groups compete indirectly for survival in a harsh environment, institutions that support resource conservation are favored. However, when groups compete for abundant resources, over-consumption emerges.

Check out the new paper:

Timothy M. Waring, Goff, S.H., & Smaldino P.E. (2017) The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecological Economics, 131 524–532 [pdf, model, online with sensitivity analysis]

GSS Graphical Abstract.png

Waring, Goff & Smaldino (2017) The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecological Economics, 131 524-532

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About Tim Waring

I am an evolutionary human ecologist. I study human culture and cooperation as they relate to environmental sustainability, at the University of Maine.
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