Developing a Theory of Animal Social Learning
|KEVIN N. LALAND||PETER J. RICHERSON|
|Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour||Division of Environmental Studies|
|University of Cambridge||Center for Population Biology|
|Madingley, Cambridge CB3 8AA||University of California|
|United Kingdom||Davis, California 95616|
|Department of Anthropology|
|University of California|
|Los Angeles, California 90024|
O ver the last century, several hundred empirical studies have generated significant amounts of information about social learning in animals. While these studies have spawned a number of intuitive schemes designed to collate and categorize information on animal social learning, development of a formal theoretical framework is still in its infancy. One might expect many benefits from such a framework. Formal theory can structure and discipline thinking, tighten hypotheses, clarify mechanisms, identify key parameters, and raise questions that inspire empirical research.
The field of animal social learning has not yet reached the stage of development where theoretical and empirical projects guide and inform each other. Much of the theory that does exist has been adapted from models of human culture rather than specifically designed for the analysis of social learning in other animals. Although existing theory successfully addresses some very general evolutionary questions concerned with the adaptive properties of social learning, and models the
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Publication information: Book title: Social Learning in Animals:The Roots of Culture. Contributors: Cecilia M. Heyes - Editor, Bennett G. Galef Jr. - Editor. Publisher: Academic Press. Place of publication: San Diego, CA. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 129.