Why behaviour patterns that animals learn socially are locally adaptive


Journal Article

Recent models of the social transmission of behaviour by animals have repeatedly led their authors to the counterintuitive (and counterfactual) conclusion that traditional behaviour patterns in animals are often not locally adaptive. This deduction results from the assumption in such models that frequency of expression of socially learned behaviour patterns is not aVected by rewards or punishments contingent upon their expression. An alternative approach to analysis of social learning processes, based on Staddon-Simmelhag’s conditioning model, is proposed here. It is assumed that social interactions aVect the probability of introduction of novel behaviour patterns into a naive individual’s repertoire and that consequences of engaging in a socially learned behaviour determine whether that behaviour continues to be expressed. Review of several recently analysed instances of animal social learning suggests that distinguishing processes that introduce behaviour patterns into the repertoires of individuals from processes that select among behavioural alternatives aids in understanding observed diVerences in the longevity of various traditional behaviour patterns studied in both laboratory and field. Finally, implications of the present approach for understanding the role of social learning in evolutionary process are discussed. © 1995 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Galef, BG

Published Date

  • January 1, 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1325 - 1334

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-3472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1006/anbe.1995.0164

Citation Source

  • Scopus