Social learning of an artificial fruit task in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella).

Custance, Deborah M.; Whiten, Andrew and Fredman, Tamar. 1999. Social learning of an artificial fruit task in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113(1), pp. 13-23. ISSN 0735-7036 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Social learning in 11 human-raised capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) was investigated using an artificial fruit that was designed as an analogue of natural foraging problems faced by primates. Each subject observed a human model open each of 3 principal components on the fruit in 1 of 2 alternative ways ("morphs"). The capuchin monkeys reproduced, to differing extents, the alternative techniques used for opening 1 component of the task (poking vs. pulling while twisting out a pair of smooth plastic bolts) but not the other 2. From the subjects' actions on the bolt latch, independent coders could recognize which morph they had witnessed, and they observed a degree of matching to the demonstrator's act consistent with simple imitation or object movement reenactment (A learns from watching B how an object, or parts of an object, move). Thus, these capuchins were capable of more complex social learning than has been recently ascribed to monkeys.

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March 1999Published

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04 Mar 2011 10:25

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30 Jun 2017 14:35

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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