Young children spontaneously invent wild great apes’ tool-use behaviors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Standard

Harvard

APA

Vancouver

Author

Bibtex

@article{f4b76b1adc4047f3bef1300d220e72a8,
title = "Young children spontaneously invent wild great apes’ tool-use behaviors",
abstract = "The variety and complexity of human-made tools are unique in the animal kingdom. Research investigating why human tool use is special has focused on the role of social learning: while non-human great apes acquire tool-use behaviours mostly by individual (re-)inventions, modern humans use imitation and teaching to accumulate innovations over time. However, little is known about tool-use behaviours that humans can invent individually, i.e. without cultural knowledge. We presented 2- to 3.5-year-old children with 12 problem-solving tasks based on tool-use behaviours shown by great apes. Spontaneous tool use was observed in 11 tasks. Additionally, tasks which occurred more frequently in wild great apes were also solved more frequently by human children. Our results demonstrate great similarity in the spontaneous tool-use abilities of human children and great apes, indicating that the physical cognition underlying tool use shows large overlaps across the great ape species. This suggests that humans are neither born with special physical cognition skills, nor that these skills have degraded due to our species’ long reliance of social learning in the tool-use domain.",
keywords = "tool use , problem solving , physical cognition , cognitive development , innovation, zone of latent solution",
author = "Eva Reindl and Sarah Beck and Ian Apperly and Claudio Tennie",
year = "2016",
month = "2",
day = "24",
doi = "10.1098/rspb.2015.2402",
language = "English",
volume = "283",
journal = "Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences",
issn = "0962-8452",
publisher = "The Royal Society",
number = "1825",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Young children spontaneously invent wild great apes’ tool-use behaviors

AU - Reindl, Eva

AU - Beck, Sarah

AU - Apperly, Ian

AU - Tennie, Claudio

PY - 2016/2/24

Y1 - 2016/2/24

N2 - The variety and complexity of human-made tools are unique in the animal kingdom. Research investigating why human tool use is special has focused on the role of social learning: while non-human great apes acquire tool-use behaviours mostly by individual (re-)inventions, modern humans use imitation and teaching to accumulate innovations over time. However, little is known about tool-use behaviours that humans can invent individually, i.e. without cultural knowledge. We presented 2- to 3.5-year-old children with 12 problem-solving tasks based on tool-use behaviours shown by great apes. Spontaneous tool use was observed in 11 tasks. Additionally, tasks which occurred more frequently in wild great apes were also solved more frequently by human children. Our results demonstrate great similarity in the spontaneous tool-use abilities of human children and great apes, indicating that the physical cognition underlying tool use shows large overlaps across the great ape species. This suggests that humans are neither born with special physical cognition skills, nor that these skills have degraded due to our species’ long reliance of social learning in the tool-use domain.

AB - The variety and complexity of human-made tools are unique in the animal kingdom. Research investigating why human tool use is special has focused on the role of social learning: while non-human great apes acquire tool-use behaviours mostly by individual (re-)inventions, modern humans use imitation and teaching to accumulate innovations over time. However, little is known about tool-use behaviours that humans can invent individually, i.e. without cultural knowledge. We presented 2- to 3.5-year-old children with 12 problem-solving tasks based on tool-use behaviours shown by great apes. Spontaneous tool use was observed in 11 tasks. Additionally, tasks which occurred more frequently in wild great apes were also solved more frequently by human children. Our results demonstrate great similarity in the spontaneous tool-use abilities of human children and great apes, indicating that the physical cognition underlying tool use shows large overlaps across the great ape species. This suggests that humans are neither born with special physical cognition skills, nor that these skills have degraded due to our species’ long reliance of social learning in the tool-use domain.

KW - tool use

KW - problem solving

KW - physical cognition

KW - cognitive development

KW - innovation

KW - zone of latent solution

U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2015.2402

DO - 10.1098/rspb.2015.2402

M3 - Article

VL - 283

JO - Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences

JF - Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences

SN - 0962-8452

IS - 1825

ER -