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Social Learning:
An Introduction to Mechanisms, Methods, and Models
William Hoppitt & Kevin N. Laland

Paperback | 2013 | $55.00 | £45.95 | ISBN: 9780691150710
Hardcover | 2013 | $82.50 | £69.95 | ISBN: 9780691150703
320 pp. | 7 x 10 | 48 line illus. 2 tables.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400846504 |
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Many animals, including humans, acquire valuable skills and knowledge by copying others. Scientists refer to this as social learning. It is one of the most exciting and rapidly developing areas of behavioral research and sits at the interface of many academic disciplines, including biology, experimental psychology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience. Social Learning provides a comprehensive, practical guide to the research methods of this important emerging field. William Hoppitt and Kevin Laland define the mechanisms thought to underlie social learning and demonstrate how to distinguish them experimentally in the laboratory. They present techniques for detecting and quantifying social learning in nature, including statistical modeling of the spatial distribution of behavior traits. They also describe the latest theory and empirical findings on social learning strategies, and introduce readers to mathematical methods and models used in the study of cultural evolution. This book is an indispensable tool for researchers and an essential primer for students.

  • Provides a comprehensive, practical guide to social learning research
  • Combines theoretical and empirical approaches
  • Describes techniques for the laboratory and the field
  • Covers social learning mechanisms and strategies, statistical modeling techniques for field data, mathematical modeling of cultural evolution, and more


"The pragmatic approach makes the book a great starting point for researchers who wish to plan a study or to look for ways to analyze data. Students will find it accessible, and the analytical tools can be used by anyone having a basic understanding of statistical methods. . . . Hoppitt and Laland's accessible writing and the book's clear graphics support its effectiveness. We predict a long and useful life for this welcome volume."--Dorothy Fragaszy and Yonat Eshchar, Science

"This excellent volume provides a thorough introduction to research and issues in this field, and also serves as a handbook of methods and techniques for studying social learning. . . . Detailed tables and figures throughout add to the volume's usefulness. A valuable introductory resource for students and an essential handbook for investigators."--Choice

"[R]eaders will find food for thought in this book especially in the ninth chapter, Modeling Social Learning and Culture, which begins by operationalizing culture and establishing parallels between biological and cultural evolution. A complete theoretical approach to social learning and culture is then introduced and the modeling methods are described. I highly recommended this chapter to researchers . . . and I also encourage them to take a look at the whole textbook."--Francesc S. Beltran, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation

"Social Learning provides the first compelling synthesis of the social-learning literature and is of value not only to newcomers seeking an introduction to a complex, multidisciplinary field, but also to established researchers looking for challenging views on familiar topics. A copy should not only be on the bookshelf of but also read by anyone interested in the study of social learning."--Bennett G. Galef, Quarterly Review of Biology

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