Cultural learning  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cultural learning, also called cultural transmission, is the way a group of people or animals within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information. Learning styles are greatly influenced by how a culture socializes with its children and young people.

The key aspect of culture is that it is not passed on biologically from the parents to the offspring, but rather learned through experience and participation. The process by which a child acquires his or her own culture is referred to as enculturation.

On the basis of cultural learning, people create, remember, and deal with ideas. They understand and apply specific systems of symbolic meaning. Cultures have been compared to sets of control mechanisms, plans, recipes, rules, or instructions.

Cass Sunstein recently described how Wikipedia moves us past the rigid limits of socialist planning that Friedrich Hayek attacked on the grounds that "no planner could possibly obtain the dispersed bits of information held by individual members of society. Hayek insisted that the knowledge of individuals, taken as a whole, is far greater than that of any commission or board, however diligent and expert."

In non-human animals

A wide variety of social animals learn from other members of their group or pack. Wolves, for example, learn multiple hunting strategies from the other pack members. A large number of bird species also engage in cultural learning; such learning is critical for the survival of some species. Dolphins also pass on knowledge about tool use.

Human cultural learning is comparable but it is often believed human capacity for abstract thought is unique.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cultural learning" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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