Use of social information in the problem solving of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and human children (Homo sapiens).
Fourteen juvenile and adult orangutans and 24 3- and 4-year-old children participated in 4 studies on imitative learning in a problem-solving situation. In all studies a simple to operate apparatus was used, but its internal mechanism was hidden from subjects to prevent individual learning. In the 1st study, orangutans observed a human demonstrator perform 1 of 4 actions on the apparatus and obtain a reward; they subsequently showed no signs of imitative learning. Similar results were obtained in a 2nd study in which orangutan demonstrators were used. Similar results were also obtained in a 3rd study in which a human encouraged imitation from an orangutan that had previously been taught to mimic arbitrary human actions. In a 4th study, human 3- and 4-year-old children learned the task by means of imitation.
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