Children and chimpanzees preference copying from the majority but only when successful

Burgess, Hannah (2012). Children and chimpanzees preference copying from the majority but only when successful Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Burgess, Hannah
Thesis Title Children and chimpanzees preference copying from the majority but only when successful
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Emma Collier-Baker
Total pages 80
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Social learning is essential to our success as a species. Dual inheritance theorists have proposed a number of cognitive biases that could provide shortcuts to the acquisition of accurate cultural information. The present study examines the majority bias: a propensity toward copying that which is demonstrated by most individuals, rather than that which is demonstrated the most times. Recent research(Haun, Rekers, & Tomasello, 2012) has established that chimpanzees and 2-year-old children preference the majority, suggesting that our psychological adaptations for cultural learning may have evolutionary origins. The current study expands upon this research by assessing the extent of the majority bias in a tool use task; investigating whether the propensity to follow the majority is strong enough to override the preference for accurate information. In Experiment 1, thirty-one 3-3.5 year-old children (Homo sapiens) viewed a video showing models using alternative tools and causally irrelevant actions to extract a reward from a series of three novel apparatuses. The majority bias was not evidenced in children’s tool selection. However, children’s bias towards performing majority causally irrelevant actions was shown to be suppressed when majority models failed. In Experiment 2, two chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) watched live models use alternative tools to extract a reward from an analogous apparatus. Ockie demonstrated a preference for majority tools and cups, which was suppressed in the condition of model failure. Cassie’s tool and cup choices did not demonstrate a strong majority bias so analysis of his choices in the context of majority model failure was less insightful. These two experiments provide preliminary evidence for the suppression of the majority bias in children and chimpanzees when majority models are shown to fail.
Keyword Children and chimpanzees
Preferance copying

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Created: Thu, 21 Feb 2013, 14:22:11 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology