The development of human social learning across seven societies

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen, Emma Cohen, Emma Collier-Baker, Christian J. Rapold, Marie Schäfer, Sebastian Schütte, Daniel B. M. Haun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
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Social information use is a pivotal characteristic of the human species. Avoiding the cost of individual exploration, social learning confers substantial fitness benefits under a wide variety of environmental conditions, especially when the process is governed by biases toward relative superiority (e.g., experts, the majority). Here, we examine the development of social information use in children aged 4–14 years (n = 605) across seven societies in a standardised social learning task. We measured two key aspects of social information use: general reliance on social information and majority preference. We show that the extent to which children rely on social information depends on children’s cultural background. The extent of children’s majority preference also varies cross-culturally, but in contrast to social information use, the ontogeny of majority preference follows a U-shaped trajectory across all societies. Our results demonstrate both cultural continuity and diversity in the realm of human social learning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2076
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date25 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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