The selection metaphor: The concepts of metacontingencies and macrocontingencies revisited


Current mainstream accounts of cultural behavior are strongly founded on a selectionist perspective. However, more than a few theoretical discussions have emerged regarding the appropriateness of the subject matter and the identification of units of selection. I argue that although Glenn's central formulations constitute a valuable extension of operant principles, the selectionist approach has hindered the theory's conceptual and empirical development. An examination of the fundamental notions included in the theory of cultural evolution is presented. Specifically, we review the concepts of metacontingencies, interlocking behavioral contingencies, macrocontingencies, and aggregate products in terms of their contribution to a valid and significant account of cultural behavior. It is suggested that experimental functional analyses are required to identify control of behavior by local contingencies or group consequences including cumulative and aggregate products.

Publication Title

Revista Latinoamericana de Psicologia

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