Watch out for this person when working in groups

The House of Representatives in Canberra. Lukas Coch – Pool/Getty Images

A study by Dutch and UK scientists has found that people who learn by copying the most successful person in their group are less likely to cooperate when faced with a dilemma.

The authors found that those who emulated one peer were more selfish compared to those who learned from the majority of a group.

“This is the first clear experimental evidence that learning strategies are an important determinant of social behaviour,” the study says.

People differ in the way they learn from others.

Some are success-based learners who try to identify successful peers and mimic their behaviour.

Others are what’s called frequency-based learners, who tend to adopt the most frequent behaviour in their group.

Franz J. Weissing, of the Theoretical Biology Group, University of Groningen, and colleagues studied 160 people in group settings.

The results of the decision-making experiment are published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

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