Cultural complexity is a central facet of cultural evolution research and theory. However, when complexity is referred to in terms of behaviour, artefacts, social systems, theoretical models etc., it is not clear if the same underlying construct is being implicated.


Some key questions remain regarding what exactly we mean when we use this term.

  • What is the most useful way to conceptualise complexity?
  • How can complexity be measured and operationalised in empirical experiments? Absolute number of elements of a trait, or the structure of those elements?
  • Are increases in complexity the only drivers of cumulative cultural evolution, or also efficiency?
  • How is complexity conceptualised across species?