Naito, A., Katahira, K. & Kameda, T. (2022).

Naito, A. (内藤碧), Katahira, K. & Kameda, T. (亀田達也) (2022).
Insights about the common generative rule underlying an information foraging task can be facilitated via collective search.
Scientific Reports, 12, 8047.

Social learning is beneficial for efficient information search in unfamiliar environments (“within-task” learning). In the real world, however, possible search spaces are often so large that decision makers are incapable of covering all options, even if they pool their information collectively. One strategy to handle such overload is developing generalizable knowledge that extends to multiple related environments (“across-task” learning). However, it is unknown whether and how social information may facilitate such across-task learning. Here, we investigated participants’ social learning processes across multiple laboratory foraging sessions in spatially correlated reward landscapes that were generated according to a common rule. The results showed that paired participants were able to improve efficiency in information search across sessions more than solo participants. Computational analysis of participants’ choice-behaviors revealed that such improvement across sessions was related to better understanding of the common generative rule. Rule understanding was correlated within a pair, suggesting that social interaction is a key to the improvement of across-task learning.