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Data from: Social learning and the replication process: an experimental investigation


Derex, Maxime; Feron, Romain; Godelle, Bernard; Raymond, Michel (2015), Data from: Social learning and the replication process: an experimental investigation, Dryad, Dataset,


Human cultural traits typically result from a gradual process that has been described as analogous to biological evolution. This observation has led pioneering scholars to draw inspiration from population genetics to develop a rigorous and successful theoretical framework of cultural evolution. Social learning, the mechanism allowing information to be transmitted between individuals, has thus been described as a simple replication mechanism. Although useful, the extent to which this idealization appropriately describes the actual social learning events has not been carefully assessed. Here, we used a specifically developed computer task to evaluate (i) the extent to which social learning leads to the replication of an observed behaviour and (ii) the consequences it has for fitness landscape exploration. Our results show that social learning does not lead to a dichotomous choice between disregarding and replicating social information. Rather, it appeared that individuals combine and transform information coming from multiple sources to produce new solutions. As a consequence, landscape exploration was promoted by the use of social information. These results invite us to rethink the way social learning is commonly modelled and could question the validity of predictions coming from models considering this process as replicative.

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