Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Social learning mechanisms and cumulative cultural evolution: is imitation necessary?
Author(s): Caldwell, Christine Anna
Millen, Ailsa E.
Contact Email:
Keywords: imitation
social learning
cumulative culture
cultural evolution
Issue Date: Dec-2009
Citation: Caldwell CA & Millen AE (2009) Social learning mechanisms and cumulative cultural evolution: is imitation necessary?, Psychological Science, 20 (12), pp. 1478-1483.
Abstract: Cumulative cultural evolution has been suggested to account for key cognitive and behavioral attributes which distinguish modern humans from our anatomically similar ancestors, but researchers have yet to establish which cognitive mechanisms are responsible for this kind of learning, and whether these are unique to humans. We have shown that human participants’ cumulative learning is not always reliant on sources of social information commonly assumed to be essential. Seven hundred participants were organized into seventy microsocieties, and completed a task involving building a paper airplane. We manipulated the availability of opportunities for: imitation (reproducing actions); emulation (reproducing end results); and teaching. Each was independently sufficient for participants to show cumulative learning. Since emulative learning can elicit cumulative culture on this task, we conclude that accounts of the unusual complexity of human culture in terms of species-unique learning mechanisms do not currently provide complete explanations, and other factors may be involved.
DOI Link:
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author; you can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Caldwell2009PsychSci.pdf346.87 kBAdobe PDFUnder Embargo until 2079-12-31    Request a copy

Note: If any of the files in this item are currently embargoed, you can request a copy directly from the author by clicking the padlock icon above. However, this facility is dependent on the depositor still being contactable at their original email address.

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.