Explaining variation in acceptance of homosexuality: Testing a cultural evolutionary hypothesis
LESLEY NEWSON University of California, Davis & University of Exeter, United Kingdom PETER J RICHERSON University of California, Davis L.Newson@ex.ac.uk
We report the results of two studies that test the kin influence hypothesis, an hypothesis which proposes that the change in societal structure which occurs with economic development initiates a long process of cultural evolution which partly accounts for the rise in acceptance of homosexuality in some populations. The hypothesis predicts two patterns will exist in the variation in acceptance of homosexuality. The first study provides support for the first prediction, that individuals are slightly less likely to express acceptance of homosexuality during interactions with a child. The second provides support for the second prediction: the pattern of variation in a cross-national sample is consistent with the proposal that individuals from all populations which have begun to experience economic development are experiencing a similar cultural change process and variation is related to the extent of their progress along that process. A model consisting of variables suggested by cultural evolution models fits the data better and explains more variance than a model consisting of variable suggested by an ecological model of cultural variation.
The kin influence hypothesis proposes that a process of cultural innovation is set in train by a general change in the information exchanged in a population that occurs after the population begins to experience economic development. It is caused by changes in the social structure of the population that are associated with economic development (Newson, 2009; Newson et al., 2005; Newson et al., 2007; Newson & Richerson, 2009). These changes have been documented and described many times and in many ways by scholars from many disciplines. Prior to economic...