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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Social learning and traditions in animals: evidence, definitions, and relationship to human culture

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Abstract The number of publications concerned with social learning in nonhuman animals has expanded dramatically in recent decades. In this article, recent literature addressing three issues that have been of particular concern to those with both an interest in social learning and a background in experimental psychology are reviewed: (1) the definition as well as (2) empirical investigation of the numerous behavioral processes that support social learning in animals, and (3) the relationship of the ‘traditions’ seen in animals to the ‘culture’ that is so important in shaping the development of behavioral repertoires in humans. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012 doi: 10.1002/wcs.1196 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Comparative Psychology

Mean ± SE amount of cayenne‐pepper flavored diet (Diet CP) eaten by subjects housed in one of 10 enclosures each containing a founding colony of four rats. Members of each colony had been trained to eat either Diet CP or wasabi‐flavored diet (Diet W) when offered both diets for 3 h/day. Immediately after the 3‐h feeding period on each of days 2–5, one member of each founding colony was removed and replaced with a naive rat. On each of days 5–14, the rat that had been longest in each enclosure was removed and replaced. Day 1: enclosures contained only members of a founding colony; days 5–14: enclosures contained only replacement subjects. Generation IV contained replacements of replacements of replacements of replacements of founding colony members. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 26. Copyright 1995 Elsevier)

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Detail from a taxonomy of asocial‐ and social‐learning processes. The latter, pictured, here, can lead to nongenetic spread of behavior either through a population or across generations. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 37. Copyright 1992 Elsevier)

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Demonstrator flies trained to lay eggs on either banana flavored medium (B) or strawberry flavored medium (S) interacted with naive demonstrators that subsequently chose between B and S. A performance index (PI) of 1.0 would indicate complete copying of demonstrators choices by their respective observers and a PI of 0, no influence of demonstrators' choices on those of observers. Without = observers with no experience of S or B before demonstration; Prior = 12 h of experience of both B and S before demonstration; After = 4 h of exposure to B and S after demonstration and before testing; Generation 2 = observers of demonstrators that had learned socially to prefer one medium to the other. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 1. Copyright 2012 Elsevier)

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Mean ± SE amount of cinnamon‐flavored diet eaten as a percentage of total amount eaten by observers choosing between cinnamon‐ and cocoa‐flavored diets (Diet Cin and Diet Coc). Observers assigned to the ‘Before’ condition were maintained on both Diets Cin and Coc for 4 days before interacting with a demonstrator rat fed one of those diets. Observers in the ‘After’ condition were maintained on Diets Cin and Coc for 4 days after interacting with a demonstrator rat fed either Diet Cin or Coc. The data are from the 4th day after interaction. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 26. Copyright 1995 Elsevier)

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Psychology > Comparative Psychology

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