This chapter begins by summarizing the principal theoretical and empirical evidence for the deployment of particular social learning strategies. These are separated into "when" strategies, which dictate the circumstances under which individuals copy others and "who" strategies, which specify from whom individuals learn. The chapter then focuses on a specific case study - public information use in sticklebacks - as a vehicle to illustrate how strategies may be combined, and as a means to illustrate some of the complications and caveats that have recently emerged in this developing field. It goes on to consider how social learning strategy use relates to the psychological mechanisms underlying social learning. While these issues are essentially independent, the former relating to functional and the latter mechanistic categorizations of behavior, it is argued that not all strategies are consistent with all mechanisms, and that knowledge of one may shed a degree of light on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition
EditorsThomas R. Zentall, Edward A. Wasserman
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199968701
ISBN (Print)9780195392661
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2012


  • Callitrichid monkey
  • Guppy
  • Innovation
  • Private information
  • Producer-scrounger
  • Public information
  • Rat
  • Social learning
  • Social learning strategies
  • Stickleback


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