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Social learning and culture in child and chimpanzee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A few decades ago we knew next to nothing about the behavior of our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, but long term field studies have since revealed an undreamt of richness in the diversity of their cultural traditions across Africa. These discoveries have been complemented by a substantial suite of experimental studies, now bridging to the wild through field experiments. Together these studies delineate a growing set of commonalities between the phenomena of social learning and culture in the lives of chimpanzees and humans, particularly children, where direct chimp/child comparison studies have been completed. These commonalities in social learning inform our understanding of the evolutionary roots of the cultural propensities the species share. At the same time, such comparisons throw into clearer relief the distinctive features of the distinctive human capacity for cumulative cultural evolution, and new research has begun to probe the key psychological attributes that may explain it.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-154
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • Culture, Tradition, Social learning, Imitation, Chimpanzees, Primates

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