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Animal Innovation$
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Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Laland

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198526223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198526223.001.0001

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Social Learning: Promoter or Inhibitor of Innovation?

Social Learning: Promoter or Inhibitor of Innovation?

(p.137) Chapter 6 Social Learning: Promoter or Inhibitor of Innovation?
Animal Innovation

Bennett G. Galef

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the contrasting views of the interaction of social learning and innovation characteristic of two periods. During the 130-year history of the scientific study of animal behaviour, there have been two periods of relatively intense interest in the role of social learning in behavioural development. The first of these episodes occurred in the latter part of the nineteenth century at a time when instinct and imitation were considered to be the main sources of adaptive behaviour in animals. The second began some thirty years ago with the publication of Ward and Zahavi's classic paper on information centres, and continues to the present day. This chapter further elaborates experiments investigating social influences on the food choices of both wild and domesticated laboratory rats, which indicate that social learning can, in fact, play either a conservative or progressive role in behavioural development, depending on environmental circumstances and the unlearned behavioural proclivities of subjects.

Keywords:   social learning, innovation, instinct, imitation, adaptive behaviour, Ward, Zahavi

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