What Is the Cultural Transmission Theory?

Clemens v. Vogelsang/CC-BY 2.0

The cultural transmission theory, also known as cultural learning, enculturation and socialization, states that all behavior is learned from the society or culture that surrounds a person. If a child is exposed to deviant behavior, especially at a young age, then that behavior can become a learned trait.

These behaviors can also be good behaviors or traditional ones. The celebrating of cultural holidays, religious practices and the correct way to talk to other people is passed from generation to generation in families and is also picked up on from friends, neighbors and social exposure. Most of this is learned in a person’s youngest years, usually up to the age of 5, but can continue into adulthood.