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Chimpanzees copy dominant and knowledgeable individuals : implications for cultural diversity.

Kendal, R.L. and Hopper, L.M. and Whiten, A. and Brosnan, S.F. and Lambeth, S.P. and Schapiro, S.J. and Hoppitt, W. (2015) 'Chimpanzees copy dominant and knowledgeable individuals : implications for cultural diversity.', Evolution and human behavior., 36 (1). pp. 65-72.


Evolutionary theory predicts that natural selection will fashion cognitive biases to guide when, and from whom, individuals acquire social information, but the precise nature of these biases, especially in ecologically valid group contexts, remains unknown. We exposed four captive groups of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to a novel extractive foraging device and, by fitting statistical models, isolated four simultaneously operating transmission biases. These include biases to copy (i) higher-ranking and (ii) expert individuals, and to copy others when (iii) uncertain or (iv) of low rank. High-ranking individuals were relatively un-strategic in their use of acquired knowledge, which, combined with the bias for others to observe them, may explain reports that high innovation rates (in juveniles and subordinates) do not generate a correspondingly high frequency of traditions in chimpanzees. Given the typically low rank of immigrants in chimpanzees, a ‘copying dominants’ bias may contribute to the observed maintenance of distinct cultural repertoires in neighboring communities despite sharing similar ecology and knowledgeable migrants. Thus, a copying dominants strategy may, as often proposed for conformist transmission, and perhaps in concert with it, restrict the accumulation of traditions within chimpanzee communities whilst maintaining cultural diversity.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Transmission biases, Social learning strategies, Chimpanzees, Culture, Cultural diversity.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Evolution and Human Behavior. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, January 2015, 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.09.002
Date accepted:01 September 2014
Date deposited:09 October 2014
Date of first online publication:06 September 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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