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Human collective search

Research Achievements

Human collective search

IGERT trainee Thomas Wisdom found that greater imitation is often beneficial at both the individual and group levels in human collective search. This is because (a) imitation allows group members to maintain relatively high performance while keeping exploration more focused and efficient, (b) imitation allows group members to perform a more equal share of the group's exploration, rather than strictly free-riding on others, and (c) imitation can directly benefit those who are imitated, through mutual cumulative innovations over time. These results are important for understanding phenomena traditionally studied across multiple disciplines, including (1) the relationship between individual behaviors and group-level outcomes in social psychology, learning and decision-making, (2) the potential social dilemmas of collective action around group search, and (3) the dynamics of innovation in technology and culture, which are regulated by the economics and law of intellectual property.