Children conform to the behavior of peers; other great apes stick with what they know.

Published

Journal Article

All primates learn things from conspecifics socially, but it is not clear whether they conform to the behavior of these conspecifics--if conformity is defined as overriding individually acquired behavioral tendencies in order to copy peers' behavior. In the current study, chimpanzees, orangutans, and 2-year-old human children individually acquired a problem-solving strategy. They then watched several conspecific peers demonstrate an alternative strategy. The children switched to this new, socially demonstrated strategy in roughly half of all instances, whereas the other two great-ape species almost never adjusted their behavior to the majority's. In a follow-up study, children switched much more when the peer demonstrators were still present than when they were absent, which suggests that their conformity arose at least in part from social motivations. These results demonstrate an important difference between the social learning of humans and great apes, a difference that might help to account for differences in human and nonhuman cultures.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Haun, DBM; Rekers, Y; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • December 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 2160 - 2167

PubMed ID

  • 25355648

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25355648

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797614553235

Language

  • eng