Portions of this research were included in the first author's doctoral dissertation and published in the proceedings of the annual meetings of the Cognitive Science Society in 2008 and 2010.
Social Learning Strategies in Networked Groups
Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 37, Issue 8, pages 1383–1425, November/December 2013
How to Cite
Wisdom, T. N., Song, X. and Goldstone, R. L. (2013), Social Learning Strategies in Networked Groups. Cognitive Science, 37: 1383–1425. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12052
- Issue published online: 12 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 5 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Received: 30 MAY 2011
- National Science Foundation REESE. Grant Number: 0910218
- National Science Foundation IGERT training. Grant Number: 0903495
- Social learning;
- Problem solving;
- Conformity bias;
- Frequency bias;
- Similarity bias;
- Innovation diffusion
When making decisions, humans can observe many kinds of information about others' activities, but their effects on performance are not well understood. We investigated social learning strategies using a simple problem-solving task in which participants search a complex space, and each can view and imitate others' solutions. Results showed that participants combined multiple sources of information to guide learning, including payoffs of peers' solutions, popularity of solution elements among peers, similarity of peers' solutions to their own, and relative payoffs from individual exploration. Furthermore, performance was positively associated with imitation rates at both the individual and group levels. When peers' payoffs were hidden, popularity and similarity biases reversed, participants searched more broadly and randomly, and both quality and equity of exploration suffered. We conclude that when peers' solutions can be effectively compared, imitation does not simply permit scrounging, but it can also facilitate propagation of good solutions for further cumulative exploration.