International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 7 Num. 2 - July 2007


Quantifying and Modelling Social Learning Processes in Monkey Populations [Cuantificaci?n y Modelado de Procesos de Aprendizaje Social en Poblaciones de Monos]

Volume 7 Num. 2 - July 2007 - Pages 123-138


Jeremy R. Kendal, Rachel L. Kendal and Kevin N. Laland.


Putative traditions in animal populations remain unsubstantiated in the absence of methods to isolate the mechanisms of social transmission in social groups. Here we address this problem by quantifying the effect of two social learning processes, namely stimulus enhancement and observational learning, on the adoption of a novel extractive foraging behavior in groups of callitrichid monkeys. We simulate the effect of these processes in a model for the spread of a novel behaviour and also select which model-parameters provide the best fit to the monkey data. Our analysis reveals evidence for asocial processes and stimulus enhancement but not observational learning. The latency to solve the tasks co-varied with the strength of the asocial, but not social, processes. Further, only asocial parameters were required for the model to fit the data. Both model and monkey diffusion data exhibited deceleratory diffusion curves. We discuss the relationship between both the asocial and social processes and the diffusion dynamics.

Key words:

Animal behavior, Culture, Learning, Social learning, Traditions

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