Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Social learning strategies regulate the wisdom and madness of interactive crowds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 21/07/19)

Abstract

Why groups of individuals sometimes exhibit collective ‘wisdom’ and other times maladaptive ‘herding’ is an enduring conundrum. Here we show that this apparent conflict is regulated by the social learning strategies deployed. We examined the patterns of human social learning through an interactive online experiment with 699 participants, varying both task uncertainty and group size, then used hierarchical Bayesian model fitting to identify the individual learning strategies exhibited by participants. Challenging tasks elicit greater conformity among individuals, with rates of copying increasing with group size, leading to high probabilities of herding among large groups confronted with uncertainty. Conversely, the reduced social learning of small groups, and the greater probability that social information would be accurate for less-challenging tasks, generated ‘wisdom of the crowd’ effects in other circumstances. Our model-based approach provides evidence that the likelihood of collective intelligence versus herding can be predicted, resolving a long-standing puzzle in the literature.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Volume3
Early online date21 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A four-questions perspective on public information use in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae)

    Webster, M. M., Chouinard-Thuly, L., Herczeg, G., Kitano, J., Riley, R. J., Rogers, S., Shapiro, M. D., Shikano, T. & Laland, K. N., 20 Feb 2019, In : Royal Society Open Science. 6, 2, 24 p., 181735.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Evolutionary Causation: Biological and Philosophical Reflections

    Tobias Uller & Laland, K. N., 2019, MIT Press.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  3. Some topics in theoretical population genetics: Editorial commentaries on a selection of Marc Feldman's TPB papers

    Altenberg, L., Creanza, N., Fogarty, L., Hadany, L., Kolodny, O., Laland, K. N., Lehmann, L., Otto, S. P., Rosenberg, N. A., Van Cleve, J. & Wakeley, J., 26 Dec 2018, In : Theoretical Population Biology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

  4. Experience shapes social information use in foraging fish

    Webster, M. M. & Laland, K. N., Dec 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 146, p. 63-70

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Preschool children and chimpanzees incur costs to watch punishment of antisocial others

    Mendes, N., Steinbeis, N., Bueno-Guerra, N., Call, J. & Singer, T., Jan 2018, In : Nature Human Behaviour. 2, p. 45-51 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Proto-consonants were information-dense via identical bioacoustic tags to proto-vowels

    Lameira, A. R., Vicente, R., Alexandre, A., Campbell-Smith, G., Knott, C., Wich, S. & Hardus, M. E., 8 Feb 2017, In : Nature Human Behaviour. 1, 0044.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 257464042