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Cultural learning, adaptiveness, stereotypes and behaviors

I have a few questions on the attached essay on Social Leaning. Would you please be so kind to help me with understanding them:

I found that the paper (attached) seemed to be in two parts: Part I - in which the author discussed the biological foundation of social learning theory; and Part II - in which she placed social learning theory in the context of learning theory more generally. Parts I and II seemed to address different issues and did not appear to have a necessary connection.

It is likely that I need clarification as well:

For example, it may be that I have become so endoctrinated with 'traditional' psychology that I can no longer think outside the box. Nonetheless, I have some difficulty with use of the concept of 'individual' learning as something different from 'observational' learning. Learning theory - traditionally - attempts to describe learning as something in which an individual orangism is engaged, whether it be respondent (or classical) conditioning, operant conditioning, or social learning. As the author describes social learning it appears to be something more akin to cultural learning and thus not easily aligned with learning theory as traditionally understood.

a. Is cultural learning adaptive in the same sense that traditional forms of learning are adaptive? I am not sure they are.

b. Are cultural values/norms/behaviors/cognitions acquired through social contact? Of course they are - but the mechanism of transmission cannot be handled through traditional learning models.

c. What is the role of selection or genetics in the transmission of cultural values/norms/behaviors/cognitions? It is a stretch to my mind to conceive that such cultural variants are selected because they allow/provide for adaptive success. It is important to remember that the basis of evolution is the mutation of genetic material that is then acted on by the environment.

d. So, if we are to assume a connection between cultural learning and adaptation and evolutionary theory we have to begin with the idea that culture is coded genetically. Is there support for that? Can we equate genetic variation with acquired behavioral responses?

e. On page 3 the author states that "Learning trials divert time and energy from other fitness-enhancing activities, they may entail serious risks, and there may be substantial chance of not acquiring locally adaptive behavior." Does the author mean to suggest that social learning is error and risk free and that it is likely (more so then other forms of learning) to promote adaptive behavior? Can you assume that "imitation is less costly than other forms of learning"? (I think of the suicide bombings in Iraq and other places.) What are the conditions under which behavior is imitated?

f. What is the difference bewteen steretyped behavior adaptation and organismic adaptation?

g. How might the ideas that the author presents provide an understanding of personality? How might these ideas be used therapeutically?

The essay is attached.

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a. Is cultural learning adaptive in the same sense that traditional forms of learning are adaptive? I am not sure they are.

Cultural learning is adaptive in so far as the individual does not questions the righteousness of the practices and tastes that a given culture suggests or condones. Social Learning Theory is distinct from Learning Theory. In Learning Theory, one is subjected to the content of the learning material and takes the initiative to learn on her/his own. In contrast, Social Learning Theory implies that an individual will 'learn' by imitation, by following what others in her/his establishment do at a given time or in a given situation. So, there is a difference here. As far as adaptive-ness is concerned, it depends what sanctions are placed on an individual who may not subscribe to every 'norm' in a given culture. Over time, eventually, all cultures undergo some form of evolution which brings consequential change.

Classical conditioning model involves pairing of a stimulus with a conditioned response.
Operant conditioning is different because it is contingent on a reward. So, this learning will be more efficient as there is an end in goal. This type of learning is more operative and behavior oriented as it forces the organism to make the effort to reach an end goal. Trial and error learning style is more reliable in this sense that it makes the learning as lasting as possible.

b. Are cultural values/norms/behaviors/cognitions acquired through social contact? Of course they are - but the mechanism of transmission cannot be handled through traditional learning models.

Social and even Developmental Psychology fields are filled with research studies that again and again indicate this fact of learnt behaviors as a function of contact with the outside world. Had it not been for our caregivers to show us how to behave in a certain ...

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