Evolution of individual versus social learning on social networks

Kohei Tamura, Yutaka Kobayashi, Yasuo Ihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A number of studies have investigated the roles played by individual and social learning in cultural phenomena and the relative advantages of the two learning strategies in variable environments. Because social learning involves the acquisition of behaviours from others, its utility depends on the availability of 'cultural models' exhibiting adaptive behaviours. This indicates that social networks play an essential role in the evolution of learning. However, possible effects of social structure on the evolution of learning have not been fully explored. Here, we develop a mathematical model to explore the evolutionary dynamics of learning strategies on social networks. We first derive the condition under which social learners (SLs) are selectively favoured over individual learners in a broad range of social network. We then obtain an analytical approximation of the long-term average frequency of SLs in homogeneous networks, from which we specify the condition, in terms of three relatedness measures, for social structure to facilitate the long-term evolution of social learning. Finally, we evaluate our approximation by Monte Carlo simulations in complete graphs, regular random graphs and scale-free networks. We formally show that whether social structure favours the evolution of social learning is determined by the relative magnitudes of two effects of social structure: localization in competition, by which competition between learning strategies is evaded, and localization in cultural transmission, which slows down the spread of adaptive traits. In addition, our estimates of the relatedness measures suggest that social structure disfavours the evolution of social learning when selection is weak.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20141285
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number104
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 6
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural evolution
  • Maladaptive culture
  • Relatedness
  • Social structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of individual versus social learning on social networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this