Cultural evolution allows human society to evolve much faster than the speed of genetic evolution, which is constrained by the interval between generations. However, within any given society, the vast majority of people only experience a very limited sense of individual agency. Gene-culture co-evolution has led to a mix of capabilities in a group where:
- The beliefs and behaviours of the vast majority of people are shaped by cultural transmission from the people around them – the majority of people primarily learn by imitation.
- A minority of atypical people is much less influenced by cultural transmission – this minority learns by consciously observing the human and non-human environment, and then drawing inferences that form the basis of beliefs and behaviours.
Amongst the atypical people those who are capable of deriving pleasure from exerting power over others and are capable of maintaining hidden agendas are known as psychopaths, whereas those…
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