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  1. Nov 2018
    1. Humans participate in social learning for a variety of adaptive reasons, such as reducing uncertainty (Kameda and Nakanishi, 2002), learning complex skills and knowledge that could not have been invented by a single individual alone (Richerson and Boyd, 2000; Tomasello, Kruger, and Ratner, 1993), and passing on beneficial cultural traits to offspring (Palmer, 2010). One proposed social-learning mechanism is prestige bias (Henrich and Gil-White, 2001), defined as the selective copying of certain “prestigious” individuals to whom others freely show deference or respect in orderto increase the amount and accuracy of information available to the learner.Prestige bias allows a learner in a novel environment to quickly and inexpensively choose from whom to learn, thus maximizing his or her chances of acquiring adaptive behavioral so lutions toa specific task or enterprisewit hout having to assess directly the adaptiveness of every potential model’s behavior.Learners provide deference to teachers in order to ingratiate themselves with a chosen model, thus gaining extended exposure to that model(Henrich and Gil-White, 2001).New learners can then use that information—who is paying attention to whom—to increase their likelihood of choosing a good teacher.

      Throughout this article are several highlighted passages that combine to form this annotation.

      This research study presents the idea that the social environment is a self-selected learning environment for adults. The idea of social prestige-bias learning is intriguing because it is derived from the student, not an institution nor instructor. The further idea of selecting whom to learn from based on prestige-bias also creates further questions that warrant a deeper understanding of the learner and the environment which s/he creates to gain knowledge.

      Using a previously conducted experiment on success-based learning and learning due to environmental change, this research further included the ideal of social prestige-biased learning.self-selected by the learner.

      In a study of 167 participants, three hypotheses were tested to see if learners would select individual learning, social learning, prestige-biased learning (also a social setting), or success-based learning. The experiment tested both an initial learning environment and a learning environment which experienced a change in the environment.

      Surprisingly, some participants selected social prestige-biased learning and some success learning and the percentages in each category did not change after the environmental change occurred.

      Questions that arise from the study:

      • Does social prestige, or someone who is deemed prestigious, equate to a knowledgeable teacher?
      • Does the social prestige-biased environment reflect wise choices?
      • If the student does not know what s/he does not know, will the social prestige-bias result in selecting the better teacher, or just in selecting a more highly recognized teacher?
      • Why did the environmental change have little impact on the selected learning environment?

      REFERENCE: Atkinson, C., O’Brien, M.J., & Mesoudi, A. (2012). Adult learners in a novel environment use prestige-biased social learning. Evolutionary Psychology, 10(3), 519-537. Retrieved from (Prestige-biased Learning )

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