Michael D. Weight and Henry Harpending (2016)
The theory of selection of quantitative traits is widely used in evolutionary biology, agriculture and other related fields. The fundamental model known as the breeder’s equation is simple, robust over short time scales, and it is often possible to estimate plausible parameters. In this paper it is suggested that the results of this model provide useful yardsticks for the description of social traits and the evaluation of transmission models. The differences on a standard personality test between samples of Old Order Amish and Indiana rural young men from the same county and the decline of homicide in Medieval Europe are used as illustrative examples of the overall approach. It is shown that the decline of homicide is unremarkable under a threshold model while the differences between rural Amish and non-Amish young men are too large to be a plausible outcome of simple genetic selection in which assortative mating by affiliation is equivalent to truncation selection.