Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Evolutionary perspectives on imitation: Is a comparative psychology of social learning possible?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Christine Anna Caldwell, Andrew Whiten

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Studies of imitation in animals have become numerous in recent times, but do they contribute to a comparative psychology of social learning? We review this burgeoning field to identify the problems and prospects for such a goal. Difficulties of two main kinds are identified. First, researchers have tackled questions about social learning from at least three very different theoretical perspectives, the "phylogenetic", "animal model", and "adaptational". We examine the conflicts between them and consider the scope for integration. A second difficulty arises in the methodological approaches used in the discipline. In relation to one of these - survey reviews of published studies - we tabulate and compare the contrasting conclusions of nine articles that together review 36 studies. The basis for authors' disagreements, including the matters of perceptual opacity, novelty, sequential structure, and goal representation, are examined. In relation to the other key method, comparative experimentation, we identify 12 studies that have explicitly compared species' imitative ability on similar tasks. We examine the principal problems of comparing like with like in these studies and consider solutions, the most powerful of which we propose to be the use of a systematic range of task designs, rather than any single "gold standard" task.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002

    Research areas

  • imitation, social learning, comparative psychology, animal cognition, CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES, CHILDREN HOMO-SAPIENS, ORANGUTANS PONGO-PYGMAEUS, DEFERRED IMITATION, JAPANESE-QUAIL, ENCULTURATED CHIMPANZEES, BIDIRECTIONAL CONTROL, FACIAL GESTURES, TOOL USE, INTELLIGENCE

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The reach of gene-culture coevolution in animals

    Whitehead, H., Laland, K. N., Rendell, L., Thorogood, R. & Whiten, A., 3 Jun 2019, In : Nature Communications. 10, 10 p., 2405.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Animal cultures matter for conservation

    Brakes, P., Dall, S. R. X., Aplin, L. M., Bearhop, S., Carroll, E. L., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J. K. B., Garland, E. C., Keith, S. A., McGregor, P. K., Mesnick, S. L., Noad, M. J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Robbins, M. M., Simmonds, M. P., Spina, F., Thornton, A., Wade, P. R., Whiting, M. J. & 5 others, Williams, J., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H., Whiten, A. & Rutz, C., 8 Mar 2019, In : Science. 363, 6431, p. 1032-1034 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. ‘Over-imitation’: a review and appraisal of a decade of research

    Hoehl, S., Keupp, S., Schleihauf, H., McGuigan, N., Buttelmann, D. & Whiten, A., Mar 2019, In : Developmental Review. 51, p. 90-108

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  4. Conformity and over-imitation: an integrative review of variant forms of hyper-reliance on social learning

    Whiten, A., 14 Jan 2019, Advances in the Study of Behavior. Elsevier, (Advances in the Study of Behavior).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Related by journal

  1. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    1 Jan 201831 Dec 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    1 Jan 201731 Dec 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    2015 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Josep Call (Member of editorial board)
    2006 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Vincent Janik (Member of editorial board)
    2004 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function

    Horschler, D. J., Hare, B., Call, J., Kaminski, J., Miklosi, A. & MacLean, E. L., Mar 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 2, p. 187-198 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Evidence for discrimination between feeding sounds of familiar fish and unfamiliar mammal-eating killer whale ecotypes by long-finned pilot whales

    Curé, C., Isojunno, S., I Vester, H., Visser, F., Oudejans, M., Biassoni, N., Massenet, M., Barluet de Beauchesne, L., J Wensveen, P., Sivle, L. D., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., Sep 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 5, p. 863-882 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Innovative problem solving in great apes: the role of visual feedback in the floating peanut task

    Ebel, S. J., Schmelz, M., Herrmann, E. & Call, J., Sep 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 5, p. 791-805 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Social learning about construction behaviour via an artefact

    Breen, A. J., Bonneaud, C. C., Healy, S. D. & Guillette, L. M., May 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 3, p. 305–315 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Stereotypic horses (Equus caballus) are not cognitively impaired

    Briefer Freymond, S., Ruet, A., Grivaz, M., Fuentes, C., Zuberbühler, K., Bachmann, I. & Briefer, E. F., Jan 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 1, p. 17-33 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 163593

Top