The contexts of social learning in wild vervet monkeys

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Nord, Christina Marie
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology
Using both observational and experimental methods, I explored the conditions under which wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) learned from one another during 12 months of field study. I paid particular attention to the contextual nature of social learning, applying a behavior analytic approach that focused on behavior—the relationship between organism and environment—rather than on individual attributes, in order to understand which behavioral transmission pathways were available to the vervets, as well as how social dynamics and individual differences influenced learning. Overall, my findings demonstrate that by taking a behavior analytic approach, we can expand the unit of analysis for cognition beyond individual animals to one that situates the organism within its environment. Doing so allows us to realize that cognition can be distributed across the environment to include not only the behavior of individual animals, but also their interactions with one another and their environments.
social learning , animal behavior , behavior analysis , Social learning , Animal behavior , Behavior analysis , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Behavior -- Research , Cercopithecus aethiops -- Research , Social behavior in animals , Animal societies , Learning in animals , Learning, Psychology of , Dissertations, Academic