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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Rawlings, B., Flynn, E. & Kendal, R (2017). To copy or to innovate? The role of personality and social networks on children's learning strategies. Child Development Perspectives 11(1): 39-44.

Author(s) from Durham


In our technologically complex world, children frequently have problems to solve and skills to learn. They can develop solutions through learning strategies involving social learning or asocial endeavors. While evidence is emerging that children may differ individually in their propensity to adopt different learning strategies, little is known about what underlies these differences. In this article, we reflect on recent research with children, adults, and nonhuman animals regarding individual differences in learning strategies. We suggest that characteristics of children's personalities and children's positions in their social networks are pertinent to individual differences in their learning strategies. These are likely pivotal factors in the learning strategies children adopt, and thus can help us understand who copies and who innovates, an important question for cultural evolution. We also discuss how methodological issues constrain developmental researchers in this field and provide suggestions for ongoing work.

School of Education