James Jones, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
The form of uncertainty affects selection for social learning.
Evolutionary human sciences
2023; 5: e20
Social learning is a critical adaptation for dealing with different forms of variability. Uncertainty is a severe form of variability where the space of possible decisions or probabilities of associated outcomes are unknown. We identified four theoretically important sources of uncertainty: temporal environmental variability; payoff ambiguity; selection-set size; and effective lifespan. When these combine, it is nearly impossible to fully learn about the environment. We develop an evolutionary agent-based model to test how each form of uncertainty affects the evolution of social learning. Agents perform one of several behaviours, modelled as a multi-armed bandit, to acquire payoffs. All agents learn about behavioural payoffs individually through an adaptive behaviour-choice model that uses a softmax decision rule. Use of vertical and oblique payoff-biased social learning evolved to serve as a scaffold for adaptive individual learning - they are not opposite strategies. Different types of uncertainty had varying effects. Temporal environmental variability suppressed social learning, whereas larger selection-set size promoted social learning, even when the environment changed frequently. Payoff ambiguity and lifespan interacted with other uncertainty parameters. This study begins to explain how social learning can predominate despite highly variable real-world environments when effective individual learning helps individuals recover from learning outdated social information.
View details for DOI 10.1017/ehs.2023.11
View details for PubMedID 37587949
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10426062
How environmental uncertainty and correlated payoffs drive the evolution of social learning
WILEY. 2022: 186-187
View details for Web of Science ID 000772245500700
- Compressive Echelle Spectroscopy SPIE-INT SOC OPTICAL ENGINEERING. 2011