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The development of gestural communication in great apes


Fröhlich, Marlen; Hobaiter, Catherine (2018). The development of gestural communication in great apes. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72(12):194.

Abstract

Great apes deploy gestural signals in goal-directed and flexible ways across a wide range of social contexts. Despite growing evidence for profound effects of developmental experience on social cognition, socio-ecological factors shaping gesture use are still poorly understood, particularly in apes living in their natural environment. After discussing current ambiguities in terminology and methods, we review recent work implementing a longitudinal and/or cross-sectional approach in great ape gesture acquisition (phylogenetic and ontogenetic origins) and development (ontogenetic trajectories). To understand whether and to what extent the socio-ecological environment influences gestural communication, it is essential to distinguish between the gestural repertoire and gesture usage, which represent different levels of analysis. While the majority of the apes’ gestural repertoire seems to be innate, accumulating evidence shows that the communicative usage of these signals is substantially affected by interactional experiences throughout ontogeny. Nevertheless, since great ape communication is intrinsically multimodal, future developmental research on gesture should incorporate other modes of communication.

Abstract

Great apes deploy gestural signals in goal-directed and flexible ways across a wide range of social contexts. Despite growing evidence for profound effects of developmental experience on social cognition, socio-ecological factors shaping gesture use are still poorly understood, particularly in apes living in their natural environment. After discussing current ambiguities in terminology and methods, we review recent work implementing a longitudinal and/or cross-sectional approach in great ape gesture acquisition (phylogenetic and ontogenetic origins) and development (ontogenetic trajectories). To understand whether and to what extent the socio-ecological environment influences gestural communication, it is essential to distinguish between the gestural repertoire and gesture usage, which represent different levels of analysis. While the majority of the apes’ gestural repertoire seems to be innate, accumulating evidence shows that the communicative usage of these signals is substantially affected by interactional experiences throughout ontogeny. Nevertheless, since great ape communication is intrinsically multimodal, future developmental research on gesture should incorporate other modes of communication.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:15 December 2018
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 17:06
Last Modified:30 Jan 2019 17:07
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0340-5443
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2619-y

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