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Simulation models of cultural evolution in R


This tutorial shows how to create very simple simulation or agent-based models of cultural evolution in R. Currently these are:

  • Model 1: Unbiased transmission
  • Model 2: Unbiased and biased mutation
  • Model 3: Biased transmission (direct/content bias)
  • Model 4: Biased transmission (indirect bias)
  • Model 5: Biased transmission (conformist bias)
  • Model 6: Vertical and horizontal transmission
  • Model 7: Migration
  • Model 8: Blending inheritance
  • Model 9: Demography and cultural gain/loss
  • Model 10: Polarization
  • Model 11: Cultural group selection
  • Model 12: Historical dynamics
  • Model 13: Social contagion
  • Model 14: Social networks
  • Model 15: Opinion formation
  • Model 16: Bayesian iterated learning
  • Model 17: Reinforcement learning
  • Model 18: Evolution of social learning
  • Model 19: Evolution of social learning strategies

Each model is contained in a separate RMarkdown (Rmd) file. You can either (i) download each of these Rmd files from then open them in RStudio or another IDE, executing the code as you read the text, or (ii) read the online version of the tutorial at which contains the compiled models with outputs. There is also a pdf version of the entire book on the github page. For maximum learning (and fun), I recommend (i), where you can execute and play around with the code yourself.

You can cite the tutorial as:

or use the Cite this repository button on github.

A longer and more detailed book-length resource, which builds on some of these models, can be found here:

  • Alberto Acerbi, Alex Mesoudi, and Marco Smolla (2020) Individual-based models of cultural evolution. A step-by-step guide using R. doi:110.31219/ Available at:


This tutorial shows how to create very simple simulation or agent-based models of cultural evolution in R








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