Social learning underpins our species's extraordinary success. Learning through observation has been investigated in several species, but learning from advice - where information is intentionally broadcast - is less understood. We used a pre-registered, online experiment (n = 1492) combined with computational modelling to examine learning through observation and advice. Participants were more likely to immediately follow advice than to copy an observed choice, but this was dependent upon trust in the adviser: highly paranoid participants were less likely to follow advice in the short term. Reinforcement learning modelling revealed two distinct patterns regarding the long-term effects of social information: some individuals relied fully on social information, whereas others reverted to trial-and-error learning. This variation may affect the prevalence and fidelity of socially transmitted information. Our results highlight the privileged status of advice relative to observation and how the assimilation of intentionally broadcast information is affected by trust in others.
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|State||Published - 27 Oct 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
U.H. was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (1532/20) and by the National Institute of Psychobiology in Israel (211-19-20). N.R. was supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (UF160412) and The Leverhulme Trust.
© 2021 The Authors.
- reinforcement learning
- social learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Environmental Science (all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)