Body-based units of measure in cultural evolution.

Science Vol/Iss. 380(6648) American Association for the Advancement of Science Published In Pages: 948-954
By Kaaronen, Roope O., Manninen, Mikael A., Eronen, Jussi T.


How and why have measurement systems evolved? Many early measurement systems were derived from parts of the body, such as the foot or cubit– the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Recent research has suggested that measurement systems transitioned through stages, from body-measurements to more complex standardized systems. However, through analyses of ethnographic data drawn from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, the authors find that the use of body-based measurement is still prevalent in most cultures worldwide, despite the development of standardized measurement systems. The authors posit that the persistence of body-based measurement is due to the advantages it holds over standardized measurement systems.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS)Researchers' ownCoded types, uses, and timelines of body-based measurements in 186 cultures.

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