Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Personality predicts social learning in wild monkeys: Bold or anxious baboons learn to solve tasks from other baboons

Date:
March 11, 2014
Source:
PeerJ
Summary:
Baboons learn from other baboons about new food sources -- but only if they are bold or anxious. The results suggest that personality plays a key role in social learning in animals, something previously ignored in animal cognition studies. Researchers examined how personality influenced whether baboons solved foraging tasks and whether they then demonstrated to others how to solve the tasks. They found bolder baboons did both.

The Tsaobis Baboon Project follows habituated baboons in the Pro-Namib desert of Namibia.
Credit: Alecia Carter/Tsaobis Baboon Project

Baboons learn from other baboons about new food sources -- but only if they are bold or anxious -- according to a new study published in the journal PeerJ). The results suggest that personality plays a key role in social learning in animals, something previously ignored in animal cognition studies.

Related Articles


Studying animals at the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology Tsaobis Baboon Project in Namibia, the researchers examined how personality influenced whether baboons solved foraging tasks and whether they then demonstrated to others how to solve the tasks. They found bolder baboons did both.

Over three years, the researchers performed two types of experiment in which the baboons could learn about a novel food source by watching another baboon with it.

According to lead author Dr Alecia Carter of the University of Cambridge: "Though bolder baboons learnt, the shy ones watched the baboon with the novel tasks just as long as the bold ones did, but did not learn the task. In effect, despite being made aware of what to do with the tasks they were still too shy to do anything with it afterwards."

This means there was a mismatch between collecting social information and using social information.

The authors found a similar mismatch for anxiety: calm baboons watched a demonstrator for longer than anxious individuals, but it was the anxious individuals which learnt the task.

"These results are significant, because they suggest that in cognitive tasks animals may perform poorly not because they aren't clever enough to solve the task, they may just be too shy or nervous to interact with it. Individual differences in social learning that are related to personality may thus have to be taken into account systematically when studying animal cognition," she said.

The results also suggest that the baboons' social networks may prevent them from learning from others. "I couldn't test some individuals no matter how hard I tried," explained Dr Carter, "because although they were given the opportunity to watch a knowledgeable individual who knew how to solve the task some baboons simply never went near a knowledgeable individual and thus never had the opportunity to learn from others."

The findings may impact how we understand the formation of culture in societies through social learning. If some individuals are unable to get information from others because they don't associate with the knowledgeable individuals, or they are too shy to use the information once they have it, information may not travel between all group members, stopping the formation of a culture based on social learning.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PeerJ. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alecia J. Carter, Harry H. Marshall, Robert Heinsohn, Guy Cowlishaw. Personality predicts the propensity for social learning in a wild primate. PeerJ, 2014; 2: e283 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.283

Cite This Page:

PeerJ. "Personality predicts social learning in wild monkeys: Bold or anxious baboons learn to solve tasks from other baboons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311101112.htm>.
PeerJ. (2014, March 11). Personality predicts social learning in wild monkeys: Bold or anxious baboons learn to solve tasks from other baboons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311101112.htm
PeerJ. "Personality predicts social learning in wild monkeys: Bold or anxious baboons learn to solve tasks from other baboons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311101112.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins