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Title: Social processes influencing learning : combining theoretical and empirical approaches
Author: Hoppitt, W. J. E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2004
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There are a number of processes which can result in social transmission of behaviour patterns; so much effort in social learning research has gone into devising experimental procedures that can isolate imitation from other social learning processes. In this thesis I develop method for distinguishing “simple” social learning processes and test these methods using the domestic fowl as a model organism. Strong evidence is presented for a response facilitation effect on a number of behaviour patterns, a process which might function to the same ends as imitation in animal populations. Recent models have suggested that an ability to imitate might be dependent on prior experience rather than specialised learning mechanisms. A neural network model is used to investigate these hypotheses, and generate predictions as to the conditions under which a capacity for imitation should arise. The model predicts that processes such as behavioural synchrony between individuals might result in the formation of appropriate neural links for an imitative ability. These predictions are tested using experimental and observational data on the domestic fowl. The model also suggests that similar mechanisms and developmental processes might underlie imitation and simpler social learning processes, such as response facilitation and observational conditioning. This suggests that a process of positive feedback might operate, with social learning promoting behavioural synchrony, which in turn promotes the development of social learning mechanisms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available