Research highlights

Kaaronen, Roope O., Walsh, Matthew J., Henrich, Allison K., Wisher, Isobel, Miu, Elena, Manninen, Mikael A., Eronen, Jussi T, & Riede, Felix. (2024). A global cross-cultural analysis of string figures reveals evidence of deep transmission and innovation.

Few cultural practices beyond language are as widespread as string figures. Their global distribution and potential to yield insights into cultural transmission and cognition have long been noted. Yet, it remains unknown how or when this behavior originated. We combined a global cross-cultural inventory of string figures with a novel methodology based on knot theory. We performed a computational analysis of a global sample string figures. We found 83 recurring string figure designs, some of which are regionally restricted while others display a global distribution. Their clear geographic distribution and sturctural details reveal processes of cultural transmission, innovation, and convergent evolution. Most strikingly, the global distribution of some figures raises the possibility of shared ancient origins.

Kaaronen, Roope O., Henrich, Allison K., Walsh, Matthew J., Wisher, Isobel, Manninen, Mikael A., Eronen, Jussi T, & Riede, Felix. (2024). The ties that bind: computational, cross-cultural analyses of knots reveal their cultural evolutionary history and significance.

Knots have been essential to human technology and survival throughout history. This study examines knotting traditions across time and space, analyzing 332 knots from 83 ethnographically or archaeologically documented societies over ten millennia. Using a novel approach that combines knot theory with computational string matching, we demonstrate that knotted structures can be precisely represented and compared across cultures. Our methodology identifies a core set of knots found cross-culturally, offering insights into their cultural transmission and ubiquity. We explore knots within cultural evolution, showing extensive know-how in knot-tying from the past to the present. The study also suggests that this methodology could apply to a wider range of string technologies.

Kaaronen, Roope O., Manninen, Mikael A., & Eronen, Jussi T. (2023). Body-based units of measure in cultural evolution. Science, 380(6648), 948-954. Open access at OSF.

Measurement systems are important drivers of cultural and technological evolution. We document body-based measurement systems in 186 cultures, illustrating how body-based measurement is an activity common to cultures around the world. We argue that body-based units have had, and may still have, advantages over standardized systems, such as in the design of ergonomic technologies. This helps explain the persistence of body-based measurement centuries after the first standardized measurement systems emerged.

Past publications

Falandays, J. Benjamin, et al. All intelligence is collective intelligence. Journal of Multiscale Neuroscience 2.1 (2023): 169-191.

Kaaronen, Roope O., Manninen, Mikael A., and Eronen, Jussi T. Rules of thumb, from Holocene to Anthropocene. The Anthropocene Review (2023).

Little, John C., et al. Earth systems to Anthropocene systems: An evolutionary, system-of-systems, convergence paradigm for interdependent societal challenges. Environmental Science & Technology 57.14 (2023): 5504-5520.

Nagatsu, Michiru, et al. Cultural Niche Construction as a Framework for Reorienting Human-Environment Relations. Topics in Cognitive Science (2023).

Hulkkonen, Mira, et al. Modeling non-linear changes in an urban setting: From pro-environmental affordances to responses in behavior, emissions and air quality. Ambio 52.5 (2023): 976-994.

Kaaronen, Roope O., Borgerhoff Mulder, Monique, and Waring, Timothy. Applying cultural evolution to address climate and environmental challenges. (2022).

Hukkinen, Janne I., et al. Coping with policy errors in an era of chronic socio-environmental crises. Ecological Economics 199 (2022).

Olafsson, Anton S., et al. Comparing landscape value patterns between participatory mapping and geolocated social media content across Europe. Landscape and Urban Planning 226 (2022).

Korpilo, Silviya, et al. Public participation GIS can help assess multiple dimensions of environmental justice in urban green and blue space planning. Applied Geography 148 (2022).

Kaaronen, Roope O., and Pulkka, Anna E. Ilmastolakoista ilmastovaaleihin–ympäristökansalaisuuden uudet muodot. Planeetan kokoinen arki (2022).

Kaaronen, Roope O., et al. Lessons for human survival in a world without ecological templates: what can we learn from small-scale societies?. Ecology and Society (2021).

Satchell, Liam P., Kaaronen, Roope O., and Latzman, Robert D. An ecological approach to personality: Psychological traits as drivers and consequences of active perception. Social and personality psychology compass 15.5 (2021).

Kaaronen, Roope O., and Rietveld, Erik. Practical lessons for creating affordance-based interventions for sustainable behavior change. One Earth 4.10 (2021): 1412-1424.

Raymond, Christopher M., et al. Engaging with the pragmatics of relational thinking, leverage points and transformations–Reply to West et al. Ecosystems and People 17.1 (2021): 1-5.

Kaaronen, Roope O. Mycological rationality: Heuristics, perception and decision-making in mushroom foraging. Judgment and Decision Making 15.5 (2020): 630-647.

Kaaronen, Roope O., and Nikita Strelkovskii. Cultural evolution of sustainable behaviors: Pro-environmental tipping points in an agent-based model. One Earth 2.1 (2020): 85-97.

Kaaronen, Roope O.. Steps to a Sustainable Mind: Explorations into the Ecology of Mind and Behaviour. (2020).

Hagedorn, Gregor, et al. Concerns of young protesters are justified. Science 364.6436 (2019): 139-140.

Kaaronen, Roope O. A theory of predictive dissonance: Predictive processing presents a new take on cognitive dissonance. Frontiers in Psychology (2018).

Kaaronen, Roope O. Reframing tacit human-nature relations: an inquiry into process philosophy and the philosophy of Michael Polanyi. Environmental Values 27.2 (2018): 179-201.

Kaaronen, Roope O. Affording sustainability: Adopting a theory of affordances as a guiding heuristic for environmental policy. Frontiers in Psychology (2017).

Kaaronen, Roope O. Scientific Support for Sustainable Development Policies: A Typology of Science–Policy Interfaces with Case Studies. (2016).

© Roope Kaaronen, 2023