Navigation Links
Majority-biased learning

This press release is available in German.

The transmission of knowledge to the next generation is a key feature of human evolution. In particular, humans tend to copy behaviour that is demonstrated by many other individuals. Chimpanzees and orangutans, two of our closest living relatives, also socially pass on traditional behaviour and culture from one generation to another. Whether and how this process resembles the human one is still largely unknown. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen have now discovered that chimpanzees are more likely to copy an action performed by a large number of individuals than an action that was performed more frequently. Two-year old children consider both the number of individuals and the frequency of the action demonstrated. For orangutans, however, none of the factors play a role.

In many animal species, behaviours and strategies are passed on from individuals to their conspecifics and potentially across groups by social learning. In chimpanzees and orangutans, whose behavioural repertoires differ from population to population, knowledge is also "transmitted" amongst individuals. In their current paper, researchers Daniel Haun, Yvonne Rekers and Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Psycholinguistics show how human children and chimpanzees pass on knowledge through social learning.

Initially, the researchers wanted to find out whether children and apes are more likely to copy a behaviour that has been demonstrated more often or one that has been demonstrated by more individuals. In the relevant experimental setting, 2-year-old children, chimpanzees and orangutans could receive a reward from an apparatus consisting of three differently coloured subsections if they dropped a ball into a hole. Four individuals then demonstrated an action: One individual dropped a ball into the same section three times; the three others one after the other - dropped their balls into another section. Finally, the observers were also asked to drop a ball into one of the three sections. The result: Most of the chimpanzees and 16 children chose the section that the majority of individuals had also chosen. Orangutans appeared to select a section quite randomly.

In the second part of the study, the researchers analysed whether the frequency with which a subsection was chosen by the demonstrators had an influence on the result. The set-up was similar to the previous test, with one exception: now it was only two children, chimpanzees or orangutans who demonstrated an action. One individual dropped three balls into one of the coloured subsections and for doing this received one reward per ball. The second demonstrator dropped one ball in a differently coloured section and received one award. The result: Chimpanzees and orangutans seemed to choose randomly whereas most of the children chose the subsection into which more balls had been dropped.

"Taking the results of the two studies together, chimpanzees seemed to consider the number of demonstrators more strongly than the number of demonstrations when deciding which information to extract from their social environment. Children considered both. Orangutans considered neither", says Daniel Haun. Interestingly, children and chimpanzees copied the majority behaviour while orangutans did not. One possible explanation: Contrary to humans and chimpanzees, orangutans live together in lose group structures. Social learning beyond the mother-child-relationship might therefore not play an equally important role.

Contact: Dr. Daniel Haun

Related biology news :

1. Moths with a nose for learning
2. Baby talk: The roots of the early vocabulary in infants learning from speech
3. New report on science learning at museums, zoos, other informal settings
4. DREAM: 1 gene regulates pain, learning and memory
5. At WPI, some students are learning its OK to peek
6. Learning how the pieces responsible for interpreting the human genome work
7. MU study finds connection between evolution, classroom learning
8. Scientists are learning more about big birds from feathers
9. Scientists devise efficient way of learning about complex corn traits
10. Why one way of learning is better than another
11. Habit-learning device will lower energy bills under new clean energy cashback scheme
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Majority-biased learning
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a provider ... MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) , ... multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple complex ... any combination of fingerprint, face or iris biometrics. ... SDK and MegaMatcher Accelerator , which ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Sweden , April 28, 2016 First ... M (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... profit totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin ... 7.12 (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK ... The 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ,     (Logo: ... analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics market to ... period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is being ... the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics ... Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring ... designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... LONDON , June 23, 2016 ... & Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 ... Review , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, ... the escalating cost of cancer care is placing ... a result of expensive biologic therapies. With the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) today announced ... life sciences incubator to accelerate the development of new ... at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential life science ... early stage organizations - access to laboratory infrastructure. ... two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each winner with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: