Disentangling the contribution of individual and social learning processes in human advice-taking behavior

Maayan Pereg, Uri Hertz, Ido Ben-Artzi, Nitzan Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of social learning examines how individuals learn from others by means of observation, imitation, or compliance with advice. However, it still remains largely unknown whether social learning processes have a distinct contribution to behavior, independent from non-social trial-and-error learning that often occurs simultaneously. 153 participants completed a reinforcement learning task, where they were asked to make choices to gain rewards. Advice from an artificial teacher was presented in 60% of the trials, allowing us to compare choice behavior with and without advice. Results showed a strong and reliable tendency to follow advice (test-retest reliability ~0.73). Computational modeling suggested a unique contribution of three distinct learning strategies: (a) individual learning (i.e., learning the value of actions, independent of advice), (b) informed advice-taking (i.e., learning the value of following advice), and (c) non-informed advice-taking (i.e., a constant bias to follow advice regardless of outcome history). Comparing artificial and empirical data provided specific behavioral regression signatures to both informed and non-informed advice taking processes. We discuss the theoretical implications of integrating internal and external information during the learning process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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