Jul 1, 2016

Adversity magnifies the importance of social information in decision-making

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Alfonso Pérez-Escudero, Gonzalo G de Polavieja


In adverse conditions, individuals follow the majority more strongly. This phenomenon is very general across social species, but explanations have been particular to the species and context, including antipredatory responses, deflection of responsibility, or increase in uncertainty. Here we show that the impact of social information in realistic decision-making typically increases with adversity, giving more weight to the choices of the majority. The conditions for this social magnification are very natural, but were absent in previous decision-making models due to extra assumptions that simplified mathematical analysis, like very low levels of stochasticity or the assumption that when one option is good the other one must be bad. We show that decision-making in collectives can quantitatively explain the different impact of social influence with different levels of adversity for different species and contexts, including life-threatening situations in fish and simple experiments in humans.

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Decision Making
DSP protein, human
Research Study

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