Term of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Bradley R. Sturz

Committee Member 1

Kent D. Bodily

Committee Member 2

Lawrence Locker


Previous studies have indicated both human and non-human animals come under control of a hidden spatial pattern when engaged in an open field search task, and rats appear to exhibit social learning in such tasks through the influence of a conspecific on their search behavior. Although human participants appear to perform similarly in both real-world and virtual environment versions of a spatial pattern search task, evidence from human participants for social learning in such a task remains lacking. The current experiments tested the influence of social learning (observational learning) on human performance in a spatial pattern learning task within a virtual environment. In Experiment 1, participants watched a video of a demonstrator performing a spatial pattern learning task using either a random search strategy (Random Observation Group) or an optimal search strategy (Optimal Observation Group). Experiment 2 tested if the obtained differences in Experiment 1 resulted from facilitation of learning in the Optimal Observation Group or inhibition of learning in the Random Observation Group by adding a third Control No Observation group. Collectively, results provide evidence for social (observational) learning by humans in a spatial pattern learning task and suggest facilitation of learning in the optimal observation group drove group differences in performance.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material