Adaptive Trade-offs in the Use of Social and Personal Information

Edited by Rachel L. Kendal, Isabelle Coolen and Kevin N. Laland

in Cognitive Ecology II

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226169354
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226169378 | DOI:
Adaptive Trade-offs in the Use of Social and Personal Information

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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This chapter reviews the current knowledge on social learning. From humans' biased perspective, social learning is a basic way of life. Most animals do not rely on social learning, whereas some species use it only conditionally. The authors organize their discussion around the two key questions of when individuals should rely on social learning and whom they should learn from. Individual characteristics of observers, favoring the overriding of social learning strategies and the continued acquisition of personal information, may be influential in determining the innovatory capacities of individuals. It is hoped that consideration of the trade-offs inherent in the adaptive use of social and asocial learning will contribute to an increased understanding of the observed pattern of social learning and behavioral traditions in the animal kingdom, especially as the use of social information may lead to cultural evolution, which may in turn affect biological evolution.

Keywords: social learning; acquisition; trade-offs; asocial learning; behavioral traditions

Chapter.  8708 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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