Neuroscience, evolution, and culture
Fashions in dog breeds
2011/11/05Posted by on
I have recently attended a one-day course on data visualization with Edward Tufte and I have tried to put his advice on virtual paper in this supergraphic on the popularity of dog breeds, using AKC data (courtesy of Hal Herzog). The graph shows the popularity of 100 breeds over time (most popular breeds first), indicating the maximum in popularity and other peaks (if any). I have produced this graph as an inspiration for my ongoing work on cultural dynamics (some features are idiosyncratic to the data analyses I am making). Here are a few things I see in the graph:
- Many breeds have had a clear peak of popularity, after which their diffusion declined to low values. This applies especially, but not only, to breeds used purely as pets – such as the all-time favorite, the poodle.
- The faster a breed rises in popularity, the faster it goes back to its pre-spike level (this is not only a visual impression, it can be put on strong statistical grounds). A similar phenomenon has been observed for first names.
What else can you see? And how to explain it? In am working, with Alberto Acerbi and Magnus Enquist on an explanation of fashion cycles based on the cultural dynamics of preferences, as foreshadowed in our previous work on how social learning influences openness to new information. The paper is now under review at Plos ONE.