Two-year-old children copy more reliably and more often than nonhuman great apes in multiple observational learning tasks

Claudio Tennie*, Kathrin Greve, Heinz Gretscher, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Individuals observing a proficient model can potentially benefit by copying at least one of the following three elements: motor movements (i.e., actions), goals, and results. Although several studies have investigated this issue in human infants, there are still very few studies that have systematically examined great apes' ability to spontaneously copy each of these three elements (particularly in comparison with human infants). We tested great apes and human children with eight two-target puzzle boxes-with varying levels of difficulty-to isolate the aspects that the various species may be more prone to copying. We found first trial evidence for observational learning of actions, goals, and results in children. Some copying was found for apes as well, but only if their performance was averaged across trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalPrimates
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Imitation
  • Emulation
  • Observational learning
  • Two-action task
  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • HOMO-SAPIENS
  • TOOL USE
  • ENCULTURATED CHIMPANZEES
  • MANIPULATORY ACTIONS
  • RATIONAL IMITATION
  • DEFERRED IMITATION
  • INTENDED ACTS
  • EMULATION
  • INFANTS

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