Social learning – psychological and neural mechanisms


Due to its key role in ‘cultural evolution’, our, arguably uniquely human, capacity to learn from others the accumulated wisdom of previous generations – social learning has been suggested to hold a key to understanding the peculiarities of human life. However, social learning research has typically been confined to the academic fields of ecology and economics; only recently has this become the focus of psychological enquiry.

This module will provide an in-depth understanding of cutting-edge developments concerning the psychological and neural mechanisms that underpin social learning. Throughout the 10 lectures we will critically evaluate whether social learning mechanisms are uniquely social, or, whether social learning ‘piggybacks’ on domain-general mechanisms. We will also explore what happens when social learning goes awry.


  • Essay (50%)
  • Examination (50%)