Crast, J. 2007. Socially-mediated learning in groups of primates: models and methods. American Journal of Primatology 69(S1), 74. (30th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #90)
An ethological understanding of a behavioral phenomenon incorporates four levels of explanation: development, mechanism, function, and evolution. The phenomenon of socially-mediated learning has garnered a great deal of attention from ethologists, prominently including primatologists. Gregarious primates often exhibit specific behaviors shared by many group members, and there is tremendous interest in understanding how these behaviors are generated and maintained. There are numerous factors within the social environment that influence an individuals’ learning of a new skill, not to mention individual and species characteristics and physical setting. These factors make an ethological analysis of socially-mediated learning particularly challenging. This symposium will showcase conceptual models and empirical methods used to study socially-mediated learning and traditions in social groups of nonhuman primates by researchers working in field and laboratory settings. Fragaszy will open the symposium with an analysis of selected methodologies used with humans and with non-primate taxa that might be of interest to those studying nonhuman primates. Gunst et al., Leca et al., and Rapaport discuss their field work with tufted capuchins, Japanese macaques, and golden lion tamarins, combining developmental, socio-demographic, and ecological perspectives. Crast, Bonnie, Horner, and Snowdon discuss work with captive groups of tufted capuchins, chimpanzees, and tamarins, combining experimental and ethological perspectives. Drea will close the symposium as a discussant.