Skip to main content

SAP Seminar, Dr Jennifer Cook

  • Date 03 May 2018
  • Time 13:00-14:00
  • Category Seminar

SAP Seminar, Dr Jennifer Cook

Dissociating social and non-social learning: influences of social nature versus informational status
Dr Jennifer Cook, University of Birmingham


The last decade has seen a burgeoning interest in studying the neural and computational mechanisms that underpin social learning (learning from others). Many findings support the view that learning from other people is underpinned by the same, ‘domain-general’, mechanisms underpinning learning from non-social stimuli. Despite this, the idea that humans possess social-specific learning mechanisms - adaptive specializations moulded by natural selection to cope with the pressures of group living - persists. In this talk I explore the persistence of this idea. First, I present dissociations between social and non-social learning - patterns of data which are difficult to explain under the domain-general thesis and which therefore contribute to the persistence of the adaptive specialisation view. However, I argue that most studies that have dissociated social and non-social learning have employed paradigms in which social information comprises a secondary, additional, source of information that can be used to supplement learning from non-social stimuli. Thus, in most extant paradigms, social and non-social learning differ both in terms of social nature (social or non-social) and status (primary or secondary). I conclude that status is an important driver of apparent differences between social and non-social learning and, when accounted for, there is insufficient evidence to conclude with any certainty that there are special mechanisms for specifically social learning.



Further information

Room W128, Wolfson Building

Related topics

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Learn more about the School of Law and Social Sciences.

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today