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Potent Social Learning and Conformity Shape a Wild Primate's Foraging Decisions

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Abstract

Conformity to local behavioral norms reflects the pervading role of culture in human life. Laboratory experiments have begun to suggest a role for conformity in animal social learning, but evidence from the wild remains circumstantial. Here, we show experimentally that wild vervet monkeys will abandon personal foraging preferences in favor of group norms new to them. Groups first learned to avoid the bitter-tasting alternative of two foods. Presentations of these options untreated months later revealed that all new infants naive to the foods adopted maternal preferences. Males who migrated between groups where the alternative food was eaten switched to the new local norm. Such powerful effects of social learning represent a more potent force than hitherto recognized in shaping group differences among wild animals.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-485
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume340
Issue number6131
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Apr 2013

    Research areas

  • INFORMATION, DIFFUSION, HUMANS, CULTURE, MONKEYS, MAJORITY, TRANSMISSION, EVOLUTION, INSIGHTS, CHIMPANZEES

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