The question of animal culture

@article{Galef1992TheQO,
  title={The question of animal culture},
  author={Bennett G. Galef},
  journal={Human Nature},
  year={1992},
  volume={3},
  pages={157-178}
}
  • B. Galef
  • Published 1 June 1992
  • Biology
  • Human Nature
In this paper I consider whether traditional behaviors of animals, like traditions of humans, are transmitted by imitation learning. Review of the literature on problem solving by captive primates, and detailed consideration of two widely cited instances of purported learning by imitation and of culture in free-living primates (sweet-potato washing by Japanese macaques and termite fishing by chimpanzees), suggests that nonhuman primates do not learn to solve problems by imitation. It may… 

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  • D. Simon
  • Biology
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  • 2019
Evidence that non-human primates indeed do have culture is presented, and several factors which might account for the relative sophistication of human culture are considered: Learning, the ratchet effect, conformity, collaboration, meta-representation, and imagination.

Do animals have culture?

There is no reason to assume that cumulative culture depends critically on teaching, imitation, language, or perspective‐taking in animals, and currently, animals are being judged according to stricter criteria than humans.

What is animal culture

A definition of animal culture is constructed to attempt to offer a definition of culture that makes sense of how it is used by psychologists, biologists, anthropologists, and others who use the term culture in studies of animal behavior.
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References

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John Bonner traces the origins of culture back to the early biological evolution of animals and provides examples of five categories of behavior leading to nonhuman culture: physical dexterity, relations with other species, auditory communication within a species, geographic locations, and inventions or innovations.

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Barnett points out that teaching by punishment is common among animals but believes that the evidence for teaching by encouragement is weak and it is difficult to distinguish between “behaviour which promotes learning of skills by imitation, on the one hand, and directed teaching”.

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These findings complement naturalistic observations in suggesting that chimpanzee tool-use is in some sense «culturally transmitted» — though perhaps not in the same sense as social-conventional behaviors for which precise copying of conspecifics is crucial.

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1. Responsiveness to inanimate objects was studied in feral M. fuscata by: (a) observing reactions to naturally occurring objects, (b) placing novel toys along paths and on rocks, and (c) presenting

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A “thought experiment” is employed to demonstrate that neither side of the sociobiology debate is justified in dismissing the arguments of the other.

The “Instinct to Teach”

The concept of teaching contains the notion that the teacher's behaviour is guided by the pupil's performance, and other kinds of teaching are aided by imitation, or learning by observation.

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HUMAN nature as understood by that most pessimistic of philosophers, Schopenhauer, is here presented in English dress by Mr. Saunders. The essays which make up the book have been selected and
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