Viewing Adaptive Social Choice Through the Lens of Associative Learning

Oriel FeldmanHall, Joseph Dunsmoor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Because humans live in a dynamic and evolving social world, modeling the factors that guide social behavior has remained a challenge for psychology. In contrast, much progress has been made on understanding some of the more basic elements of human behavior, such as associative learning and memory, which has been successfully modeled in other species. Here we argue that applying an associative learning approach to social behavior can offer valuable insights into the human moral experience. We propose that the basic principles of associative learning—conserved across a range of species—can, in many situations, help to explain seemingly complex human behaviors, including altruistic, cooperative, and selfish acts. We describe examples from the social decision-making literature using Pavlovian learning phenomena (e.g., extinction, cue competition, stimulus generalization) to detail how a history of positive or negative social outcomes influences cognitive and affective mechanisms that shape moral choice. Examining how we might understand social behaviors and their likely reliance on domain-general mechanisms can help to generate testable hypotheses to further understand how social value is learned, represented, and expressed behaviorally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-196
Number of pages22
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

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Lenses
Social Behavior
Learning
Stimulus Generalization
Social Values
Cues
Decision Making
Psychology

Keywords

  • associative
  • goals
  • learning
  • motivation
  • reward
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Viewing Adaptive Social Choice Through the Lens of Associative Learning. / FeldmanHall, Oriel; Dunsmoor, Joseph.

In: Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 14, No. 2, 01.03.2019, p. 175-196.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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