Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences
The paper develops an evolutionary selection model of the cultural transmission of preferences, focusing on the survival probability of certain preference types. The fitness of a preference is defined in terms of the ease with which its carrier can transmit the preference to the young. For example, a taste for work gives its carriers more income than is obtained by those who carry a taste for leisure. If higher income allows a given carrier to transmit her preferences more easily, then those with a taste for work will be more likely to transmit their preferences to the young; hence a taste for work will be more evolutionarily fit than a taste for leisure. In general, cultural transmission of preferences will favor any tastes that facilitate their own transmission, especially tastes for social achievements such as income, power, mass communication, and knowledge. The resulting pattern of tastes can be biased in the following sense: if the young generation were not influenced by achievement effects, they would choose preferences that would make them happier.
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