How do Whiten et al. and Vaidyanathan define culture in chimpanzees?



1. How do Whiten et al. and Vaidyanathan define culture in chimpanzees?

2. In order for a behavior to be considered cultural, scientists have to rule out other possible explanations for the behavior. What are the two main other explanations scientists generally consider? (Vaidyanathan talks about this more explicitly than Whiten et al.)

3. What are some examples of cultural behaviors in chimpanzees? Explain at least 3 specific examples of culture in chimpanzees from course materials. Be specific and name the sites at which the behaviors have been observed. Feel free to refer to material from Topic 12. NOTE: While the experiments presented in Ape Genius are interesting and demonstrate capacities required for the presence of culture (social learning, imitation), they are not in and of themselves cultural behaviors. You will want to focus on natural behaviors observed in wild chimpanzee populations.

For the rest of the questions, your answers should be based on Ape Genius.

4. Can chimpanzees learn new behaviors through imitation? What are the two specific examples presented in the video? Be specific and explain the experiments in detail.

5. Humans are obviously experts at imitation but what curious thing did researchers discover about human imitation when humans were presented with the treat in the puzzle box experiment?

6. In one set of experiments, researchers placed food on a tray that chimpanzees could pull toward themselves using two ropes. What did this experiment reveal about chimpanzees’ ability to cooperate with each other?

7. Researchers conducted the same cooperation experiment with bonobos. How did the bonobos do on the task compared to the chimpanzees?

8. What did the experiment on social emotions in which treats were dispensed on table and a rope could be pulled to end experiment demonstrate about chimpanzees’ ability to understand responsibility and punishment?

9. In a series of experiments with two chimpanzees, Sarah and Sheba, that examines social emotions Sally Boysen presented one of the chimpanzees with two bowls of M&Ms and asked her to pick a bowl. Explain the experiment and how the chimpanzees performed.

10. Later, Boysen did the same experiment but instead of using M&Ms in the bowls, she replaced the candies with Arabic numerals. How did this change the chimpanzee’s performance on the experiment? What does this result suggest about chimpanzee social emotions? About their capacity for understanding symbols?

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