How much to copy from others?

Campbell, C., Izquierdo, E. & Goldstone, R. L. (2020).  How much to copy from others? The role of partial copying in social learning.  Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 916-922). Toronto, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.

One of the major ways that people engage in adaptive problem solving is by copying the solutions of others. Most of the work on this field has focused on three questions: when to copy, who to copy from, and what to copy. However, how much to copy has been relatively less explored. In the current research, we are interested in the consequences for a group when its members engage in social learning strategies with different tendencies to copy entire or partial solutions and different complexities of search problems. We also consider different network topologies that affect the solutions visible to each member. Using a computational model of collective problem solving, we demonstrate that strategies where social learning involves partial copying outperform strategies where individuals copy entire solutions. We analyze the exploration/exploitation dynamics of these social learning strategies under the different conditions.

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