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Social learning by orangutans in a simulated food-processing task

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Author(s)

TS Stoinski, Andrew Whiten

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Increasing evidence for behavioral differences between populations of primates has created a resurgence of interest in examining mechanisms of information transfer between individuals. The authors examined the social transmission of information in 15 captive orangutans (Pongo abelii and Pongo pygmaeus) using a simulated food-processing task. Experimental subjects were shown I of 2 methods for removing a suite of defenses on an "artificial fruit." Control subjects were given no prior exposure before interacting with the fruit. Observing a model provided a functional advantage in the task, as significantly more experimental than control subjects opened the fruit. Within the experimental groups, the authors found a trend toward differences in the actual behaviors used to remove I of the defenses. Results support observations from the wild implying horizontal transfer of information in orangutans and show that a number of social learning processes are likely to be involved in the transfer of knowledge in this species.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-282
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume117
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003

    Research areas

  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES, CHILDREN HOMO-SAPIENS, DEFERRED IMITATION, TOOL USE, ANIMALS, CULTURE

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