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Book Chapter

Insights from comparative research on cultural learning


Amici,  Federica       
Department of Human Behavior Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
Research Group Primate Behavioural Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Cacchione, T., & Amici, F. (2020). Insights from comparative research on cultural learning. In S. Hunnius, & M. Meyer (Eds.), New perspectives on early social-cognitive development (pp. 247-270). Elsevier.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-E7C0-C
Social cognitive skills play a crucial role in human life, and have allowed us to reach a unique level of behavioral and cultural complexity. However, many nonhuman species also show a complex understanding of the social world. Building on theories of human social development, we will follow the emergence of cultural learning skills across taxa, discussing similarities and differences between humans and other species. We will first review literature on social learning, including enhancement, emulation and imitation. Then, we will discuss existing studies on the evolution of teaching, and finally, we will critically review literature on the social transmission of skills and knowledge across generations. By adopting a comparative perspective, we will be able to identify the unique characteristics of social transmission in humans, and the social skills that are instead shared with other species, to gain a deeper understanding of the role of cultural learning in social cognitive development.