Abstract # 96:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


S. A. Price1,2,3, L. M. Hopper1,3, S. J. Schapiro3, S. P. Lambeth3 and R. Kendal2
1Georgia State University, Language Research Center, Department of Psychology, Atlanta, GA, USA, 2Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Durham, UK, 3Department of Veterinary Sciences, The Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Bastrop, TX, USA

We present the first investigation of how chimpanzees (n = 65) weigh personal knowledge against social information. In two experimental conditions, captive chimpanzees gained knowledge about a novel task; a box from which two rods protruded from the front face. In the ‘specific’ condition (‘S’), chimpanzees learned to push only one of the rods to gain food, whereas in the intermediary, ‘functional’ condition (‘F’) they learned the concept of ‘rod-pushing’, pushing a ‘neutral’ rod not available during testing. Chimpanzees were then presented with videos of either male/female adult/juvenile models using the box to gain food. The control group just saw the videos with no prior experience of the box. In this control, 71% observers matched the video-model with their first response (versus 43% in F and 31% in S). Although not significantly different, this trend suggests that as personal knowledge of this task increased, reliance on social information diminished. Considering all responses, half of the chimpanzees in S switched between the two rods, revealing that chimpanzees may not be as ‘conservative’ when learning as previously suggested. Of the remaining half, 81% continued to use the rod they had personal knowledge about, suggesting a reliance on personal information. This large sample size provides confidence in our conclusion that no effect of model demographic was identified, contrasting with field reports showing chimpanzees preferentially copy older (female) chimpanzees.