Specificity and flexibility of social influence on spatial choice.


Department of Psychology, Villanova University, 800 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA, 19085, USA. [Email]


Rats searched for food in a situation that allowed them to determine which locations contained food after searching a small number of them, but not which of the baited locations contained more-preferred food rather than a less-preferred food. During some experimental trials, the latter information was available from the choices of model rats making choices together with the subject rats, because some of the model rats tended to choose the locations baited with more-preferred food. On the surface, the results suggest that social influence specified the locations of more-preferred food to the subject rats. However, more detailed analysis and data from a second experiment indicate that the social influence can be explained by a general tendency to approach another rat making choices, acquired if rats are exposed to a contingency between social approach and increased foraging success.


Social cognition,Social influence,Spatial cognition,