Yerkes-based experiment confirms cultural transmission and conformity in chimpanzee communities
Humans are not alone in their desire to conform to cultural norms, according to new study findings that confirm, for the first time, chimpanzees share the same conformist tendencies. Researchers, in determining how chimpanzee communities share and maintain traditions, discovered they possess a natural motivation to copy their peers well into adulthood and say that although other species show some cultural behaviors, the level of cultural variation shown by chimpanzees is exceeded only by humans. The study, conducted at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University by a collaborative team of scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom, is published in the current online edition of Nature.
Unlike previous studies that used human models for cultural-learning experiments with chimpanzees, researchers Victoria Horner, PhD, and Frans B. M. de Waal, PhD, of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Andrew Whiten, PhD, of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, applied a unique method that extends the experimental approach to the group
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