Study finds that like human children, vervet monkeys learn by copying others
The new study, by Professor Andrew Whiten and Dr Erica van de Waal, shows that vervet monkeys learn by copying others in their group, as human children do.
The research found that monkeys were able to discover new techniques for obtaining food by mimicking the behaviour of others within their group. Not only that, but the same techniques then spread to other group members in the same way.
In four different groups, three different techniques spread, supporting the theory that these methods were passed on rather than learned individually.
The researchers believe vervet monkeys, like human children, are shaped by copying others and in this way come to be members of their cultural group.
Professor Whiten, Wardlaw Professor in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, commented, “Our research is revealing that primates other than humans share some of our own reliance on doing as others do in our group.”