Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Theory of Conformist Social Learning

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_755



Within theories of animal behavior and cultural evolution, social learning or social transmission is the act when an individual acquires a cultural element such as an idea, a behavior, or a tool, by observing (or otherwise learning from) another individual (rather than by their own invention of the element, which in the same terminology is called individual learning). The individual that is observed is often called the cultural parent. If social learners choose cultural parents at random, the frequencies of cultural variants among social learners will not change in any systematic way. Theories of conformist social learninginvestigate the possibility that the choice of cultural parent may be biased toward the most common cultural variant, in which case cultural evolution will become directed toward cultural homogeneity among social learners. For any specific case, a bias for socially learning the most common variant may...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, Culture and CommunicationMälardalen UniversityVästeråsSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK