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Imitative learning of artificial fruit processing in children (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

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Observational learning in chimpanzees and young children was investigated using an artificial fruit designed as an analog of natural foraging problems faced by primates. Each of 3 principal components could be removed in 2 alternative ways, demonstration of only one of which was watched by each subject. This permitted subsequent imitation by subjects to be distinguished from stimulus enhancement. Children aged 2-4 years evidenced imitation for 2 components, but also achieved demonstrated outcomes through their own techniques. Chimpanzees relied even more on their own techniques, but they did imitate elements of 1 component of the task. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental evidence of chimpanzee imitation in a functional task designed to simulate foraging behavior hypothesized to be transmitted culturally in the wild.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996

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