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J Comp Psychol. 1996 Mar;110(1):3-14.

Imitative learning of artificial fruit processing in children (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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Scottish Primate Research Group, University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.


Observational learning in chimpanzees and young children was investigated using an artificial fruit designed as an analog of natural foraging problems faced by primates. Each of 3 principal components could be removed in 2 alternative ways, demonstration of only one of which was watched by each subject. This permitted subsequent imitation by subjects to be distinguished from stimulus enhancement. Children aged 2-4 years evidenced imitation for 2 components, but also achieved demonstrated outcomes through their own techniques. Chimpanzees relied even more on their own techniques, but they did imitate elements of 1 component of the task. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental evidence of chimpanzee imitation in a functional task designed to simulate foraging behavior hypothesized to be transmitted culturally in the wild.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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