How and Why do Cultures Change?

Monday November 11, 2019 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

Michael Varnum

Associate Professor of Psychology
Arizona State University

We live in a time of flux. What causes societies to change? Can we predict what’s coming next? In this talk I argue that patterns of cultural change can often be understood as reactions to changes in key ecological dimensions (i.e. resource abundance, pathogen prevalence, population density). I present data from a line of research using time series methods and archival and big data to assess the causes of patterns of cultural fluctuations in phenomena including individualism, gender equality, reproductive strategy, and mood. I also present concrete forecasts for future levels of these variables.

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