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Oleg Sobchuk

Research staff

Abteilung für Verhalten, Ökologie und Kultur des Menschen
Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

Telefon: +49 (0) 341 3550 339
E-Mail: oleg_sobchuk@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Research Interests

I am a researcher studying the cultural evolution of arts. I discover and explain long-term patterns in the history of books, movies, songs, video games, and other art forms. My goal is to help building a theory-driven quantitative history of culture. For this, I analyze large digital libraries and artistic datasets (such as IMDb or Spotify), use statistical models and text mining. Here are some of the questions I have worked on, or am working on now:

  • Have films become more complex during the 20th century?
  • Is phylogenetic tree an adequate model for representing the evolution of literature?
  • Is there a first-mover advantage in music genres?
  • What does make certain artworks “canonical” and why are these works so persistent in history?


2023–presentpostdoctoral researcher, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany.
2018–2023postdoctoral researcher, Minds and Traditions research group, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (renamed to Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology), Germany.


Im Druck

Sobchuk, O. (in press). Evolution of modern literature and film. In Oxford Handbook of Cultural Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Morin, O., & Sobchuk, O. (2023). Why monsters are dangerous. Poetics Today, 44(4), 647-664.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   


Sobchuk, O. (2022). How granular should our explanations of fantastic fiction be? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 45: e300.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   


Sobchuk, O. (2021). [Book review] Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age, Alberto Acerbi, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2020. Journal of Communication, 71(6), E35-E37.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Morin, O., Sobchuk, O. (2021). The shortlist effect: Nestedness contributions as a tool to explain cultural success, Evolutionary Human Sciences, 3: e51.


Tinits, P., Sobchuk, O. (2020). Open-ended cumulative cultural evolution of Hollywood film crews, Evolutionary Human Sciences, 2: e26.

Sobchuk, O., Tinits, P. (2020). Cultural attraction in film evolution: The case of anachronies, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 20(3-4): 218–237.


Morin, O., Acerbi, A., Sobchuk, O. (2019), Why people die in novels: Testing the Ordeal Simulation Hypothesis, Palgrave Communications, 5: 62.

Moretti, F., Sobchuk, O. (2019). Hidden in plain sight: Data visualization in the humanities, New Left Review, 118: 86–115.