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Lack of conformity to new local dietary preferences in migrating captive chimpanzees


Vale, Gillian L; Davis, Sarah J; van de Waal, Erica; Schapiro, Steven J; Lambeth, Susan P; Whiten, Andrew (2017). Lack of conformity to new local dietary preferences in migrating captive chimpanzees. Animal Behaviour, 124:135-144.

Abstract

Conformity to the behavioural preferences of others can have powerful effects on intragroup behavioural homogeneity in humans, but evidence in animals remains minimal. In this study, we took advantage of circumstances in which individuals or pairs of captive chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, were 'migrated' between groups, to investigate whether immigrants would conform to a new dietary population preference experienced in the group they entered, an effect suggested by recent fieldwork. Such 'migratory-minority' chimpanzees were trained to avoid one of two differently coloured foods made unpalatable, before 'migrating' to, and then observing, a 'local-majority' group consume a different food colour. Both migratory-minority and local-majority chimpanzees displayed social learning, spending significantly more time consuming the previously unpalatable, but instead now edible, food, than did control chimpanzees who did not see immigrants eat this food, nor emigrate themselves. However, following the migration of migratory-minority chimpanzees, these control individuals and the local-majority chimpanzees tended to rely primarily upon personal information, consuming first the food they had earlier learned was palatable before sampling the alternative. Thus, chimpanzees did not engage in conformity in the context we tested; instead seeing others eat a previously unpalatable food led to socially learned and adaptive re-exploration of this now-safe option in both minority and majority participants.

Abstract

Conformity to the behavioural preferences of others can have powerful effects on intragroup behavioural homogeneity in humans, but evidence in animals remains minimal. In this study, we took advantage of circumstances in which individuals or pairs of captive chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, were 'migrated' between groups, to investigate whether immigrants would conform to a new dietary population preference experienced in the group they entered, an effect suggested by recent fieldwork. Such 'migratory-minority' chimpanzees were trained to avoid one of two differently coloured foods made unpalatable, before 'migrating' to, and then observing, a 'local-majority' group consume a different food colour. Both migratory-minority and local-majority chimpanzees displayed social learning, spending significantly more time consuming the previously unpalatable, but instead now edible, food, than did control chimpanzees who did not see immigrants eat this food, nor emigrate themselves. However, following the migration of migratory-minority chimpanzees, these control individuals and the local-majority chimpanzees tended to rely primarily upon personal information, consuming first the food they had earlier learned was palatable before sampling the alternative. Thus, chimpanzees did not engage in conformity in the context we tested; instead seeing others eat a previously unpalatable food led to socially learned and adaptive re-exploration of this now-safe option in both minority and majority participants.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:15 Jan 2018 20:04
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 12:44
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.12.007
PubMed ID:29200465
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPBEZP2_140128
  • : Project TitleFrequency-to-current conversion with coherent Josephson crystals

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