While social learning is widespread, indiscriminate copying of others is rarely beneficial. Theory suggests that individuals should be selective in what, when, and whom they copy, by following 'social learning strategies’ (SLSs). The SLS concept has stimulated extensive experimental work, integrated theory, and empirical findings, and created impetus to the social learning and cultural evolution fields. However, the SLS concept needs updating to accommodate recent findings that individuals switch between strategies flexibly, that multiple strategies are deployed simultaneously, and that there is no one-to-one correspondence between psychological heuristics deployed and resulting population-level patterns. The field would also benefit from the simultaneous study of mechanism and function. SLSs provide a useful vehicle for bridge-building between cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology.
Kendal, Rachel L.; Boogert, Neeltje J.; Rendell, Luke; Laland, Kevin N.; Webster, Mike; and Jones, Patricia L., "Social Learning Strategies: Bridge-Building between Fields" (2018). Biology Faculty Publications. 189.