Social Learning: Theory

K. N. Laland*, L. Rendell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


Social learning, the ability to learn from others, is neither random nor indiscriminate. Natural selection has fashioned a set of evolved rules, or 'social learning strategies, that dictate the contexts in which individuals copy others, and from whom they learn. Here, we discuss a number of putative social learning strategies that have been subject to theoretical investigation, and consider to what extent they are supported by experimental studies of social learning in animals. We find good support for strategies specifying when individuals should copy, but weaker evidence for strategies specifying from whom individuals should learn.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Behavior
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780080453378
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Content bias
  • Context bias
  • Culture
  • ESS
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Frequency-dependent bias
  • Mathematical model
  • Rogers' paradox
  • Social learning
  • Social learning strategy
  • Tradition
  • When strategy
  • Who strategy


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