Abstract # 102:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 18, 2015 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Cascade AJBCD) Poster Presentation


G. L. Vale1,2, S. J. Davis1,2, E. van de Waal1, S. L. Schapiro2, S. P. Lambeth2 and A. Whiten1
1University of St Andrews, Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, St Andrews KY16 9JP, United Kingdom, 2The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
     Evolutionary theory predicts that natural selection will fashion cognitive biases to guide when, and from whom, individuals acquire valuable social information. One such bias that promotes community specific skills is conformity. In this study, we investigated whether migrating captive chimpanzees would switch behavior to conform to a new dietary population norm. ‘Migratory-minority’ chimpanzees learnt that two food sources, dyed either orange or green, were either palatable or unpalatable, before ‘migrating’ (through colony re-organisation) to, and then observing, groups trained with opposing food color preferences. Following migration and when presented with untreated orange and green food, both ‘migratory-minority’ (7 of 8 chimpanzees) and ‘local-majority’ chimpanzees (17 of 21 chimpanzees) relied upon personal information, preferentially consuming first the food they earlier learned to be palatable (24 of 29: Binomial, P=0.007). However, both ‘migratory-minority’ chimpanzees (MD = .80) and ‘local-majority’ chimpanzees (MD=.74), spent proportionately less time consuming their known palatable food than did control groups (N=12 individuals, MD=1.00) that had no migrating chimpanzees following their induced food preferences (U=11.00, N=19, P=0.005; U=45.00, N=32, P=0.005, respectively), indicating that while chimpanzees initially relied upon personal information, opposing social information promoted exploration of what other chimpanzees chose to eat. The observed initial reliance on personal information, coupled with the ‘local-majority’ chimpanzees’ dissent from an established group norm, suggests that chimpanzees did not engage in conformist social learning strategies in this context.