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Animal 'culture wars' : evidence from the Wild?

Kendal, R.L. (2008) 'Animal 'culture wars' : evidence from the Wild?', The psychologist., 21 . pp. 312-315.


If we observe orang-utans blowing raspberries before bedtime, what does this mean? And why should psychologists, with their focus on human behaviour, be interested? This article looks at what constitutes evidence for ‘culture’ in animals, and why the findings from long-term field studies are giving us valuable insight into the underlying cognitive processes, evolutionary bases and welfare implications for animals and humans alike.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:In this article I shall highlight the problem of identifying the all-important process of social learning in data from natural animal populations, questioning whether unequivocal evidence for social learning is sufficient to claim ‘culture’ in animals. The question of whether non-human animals exhibit culture, and the importance of this for understanding human behaviour, depends fundamentally on definitions of culture. Definitions range from those that deem a species cultural if it merely exhibits traditions transmitted via social learning, to those requiring that transmission involve teaching or imitation or generate group-specific norms and ethnic markers.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 February 2015
Date of first online publication:April 2008
Date first made open access:No date available

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