Imitation, Social Learning and Preparedness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The behavioral decisions made by many animals are to a large part influenced by what other animals are doing. Social learning is not restricted to humans, or clever animals, but is a fundamental feature of vertebrate life. In an array of different contexts, numerous animals adopt a "do-what-others-do" strategy and, in the process, learn an appropriate behavior. The main focus of this chapter is social learning in animals. A summary of the field is given, describing the different ways in which animals learn from each other, the different types of information they acquire, and the rules that they employ. Theoretical findings exploring the circumstances under which natural selection should favor reliance on social cues are also described. The penultimate section considers to what extent human social learning differs from that of animals. The chapter concludes by asking what social learning can tell us about bounded rationality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox
EditorsG Gigerenzer, R Selten
PublisherMIT Press
ISBN (Print)978-0-262-57164-7
Publication statusPublished - 2001




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