LECTURE: Social Learning
Three ways in which X can come to behave in the same way as Y (experimentation is necessary
to uncover the mechanisms underlying behaviour):
1. Demonstrator had created conditions under which observers learn in demonstrators absence.
This can be seen in the cultural transmission of behaviours. Example: chickadees learn to
pick through milk tins to eat the cream. This was done through both simply eating from an
open cream tub (then learning how to do it by themselves later) or from seeing a
demonstration. The naïve chickadee was unable to open the tub upon the first presentation.
2. Demonstrator’s actions associated with stimuli around it → observational conditioning. If
the demonstrator shows an unconditioned fear to a conditioned stimulus then the observer
develops an unconditioned response. Also an example of higher order conditioning. This can
also be seen if parents show disgust for a food then their child will as well.
EX1: Snakes (CS) → elicit fear in the demonstrator (US) → observer responds to fear
(UR) and has now developed a conditioned fear of the snakes
EX2: Two blackbirds can see each other but not what they are reacting to. One blackbird
is exposed to an owl (predator) while the other is exposed to another blackbird. The first
blackbird elicits a fear response towards the owl. The second blackbird sees this response and
starts eliciting a fear response to the fake black bird it is being exposed to.
3. Imitation: the observer stores representation of action and uses it to guide it’s own behaviour.
This could be due to a mirror neuron in the premotor cortex. The same neuron fires when a
monkey observes a behaviour and when it completes a behaviour. Species learn cues over
time (ie. sheep will jump when another member of the heard jumps)