Knowledge of resources and competitors in human foraging

Goldstone, R. L., Ashpole, B. C., & Roberts, M. E., (2005). Knowledge of resources and competitors in human foraging.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 81-87.

The allocation of human participants to resources was studied by observing the population dynamics of people interacting in real-time within a common virtual world. Resources were distributed in two spatially separated pools with varying relative reinforcement rates (50-50, 65- 35, or 80-20). We manipulated whether participants could see each other and the distribution of resources. When participants could see each other but not the resources, the richer pool was underutilized. When participants could see the resources but not each other, the richer pool was overutilized. In conjunction with prior experiments that correlated the visibility of agents and resources (Goldstone & Ashpole, in press), these results indicate that participants’ foraging decisions are influenced by both forager and resource information. The results suggest that the presence of a crowd at a resource is a deterring rather than attractive factor. Both fast and slow oscillations in the harvesting rates of the pools across time were revealed by Fourier analyses. The slow waves of crowd migration are most prevalent when the resources are invisible, whereas the fast cycles are most prevalent when the resources are visible and participants are invisible.

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