Cultural transmission of tool-use in young children:  A diffusion chain study

Emma Flynn, Andrew Whiten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Developmental and gender effects in the transmission of information about a tool-use task were investigated within a 'diffusion chain' design. One hundred and twenty-seven children (65 three-year-olds and 62 five-year-olds) participated. Eighty children took part in diffusion chains in which consecutive children in chains of five witnessed two attempts on a tool-use task by the previous child in the chain. Comparisons were made between two experimental conditions in which alternative techniques were seeded and a third no-model control condition. Children in the diffusion chains conformed to the technique they witnessed, in one experimental condition faithfully transmitting a technique absent in the no-model condition. Five-year-olds displayed more robust transmission than three-year-olds, and boys were both more competent and displayed stronger transmission than girls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-718
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Development
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • culture
  • observational learning
  • tool use
  • transmission
  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • HOMO-SAPIENS
  • SEX-DIFFERENCES
  • COPYING ACTIONS
  • IMITATION
  • BEHAVIOR
  • EMULATION
  • INFANTS
  • REENACTMENT
  • INTENTIONS

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