Social Learning

Revision notes for AQA A A2 Psychology, unit 4 Comparative Psychology, social learning theory.

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  • Created by: Emma Bert
  • Created on: 23-01-08 08:06
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SOCIAL LEARNING: superior to trialanderror learning
as it is much faster and less costly because mistakes
aren't made and it enables cultural
transmission.
Imitation: involves learning a complex set of
behaviour not just following the crowd which is `social
contagion'
Kawai observed Japanese snow monkeys. Sweet
potatoes were left on the beach for the monkey's, one
of whom (known as Imo) `invented' the idea of washing
the sand off the potatoes in the sea. Soon other
monkey's imitated her, and this was passed on to
subsequent generations. Imo also invented a way of
washing wheat by throwing it out to sea and scooping it
up once clean.
Nagell et al. suggested that the behaviour in Kawai's
study could be explained in terms of stimulus
enhancement. When the other monkey's observed Imo
washing potatoes this drew their attention to both
potatoes and water and enhanced the monkey's ability
to solve the same problem themselves.
It could also be explained in terms of operant condition
as the monkey's washing potatoes were given more
attention (Green)

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Foraging: Some examples of foraging behaviour are
obviously innate, but many of them are learned either
as a consequence of conditioning or social learning.
Social learning may have influenced the foraging
behaviour in Kawai's Japanese snow monkeys and in
tits.
Great tits and blue tits were first observed removing the
milk tops from milk bottles and drinking the milk in 1921
(Fisher and Hinde), within 10years the habit had spread
throughout Britain, this is far too quick to be natural
selection.…read more

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Zach
interpreted this behaviour as being learned and
possibly socially learned through imitation. Foragers
with well developed learning strategies will have an
advantage
Hunting in groups: Caro documented how mother cats
teach their kittens to capture prey. First the mother
brings the dead prey and eats it, then leaves the kitten
to eat it, then brings injured but live prey for the kitten to
play with, and finally live prey for the kitten to catch.
Also, coordinate hunting activities such as in crocodiles
or lions.…read more

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