This article discusses cultural processing and transmission in non-human primates. There is a significant relationship between ape and human cultures. Culture defines who we are. However, it is difficult to explain where culture comes from or why we adopt one tradition over another. Additionally, Primatologists identified behavioral practices that vary between communities and whose transmission is through social learning in primates. For a behavior to be considered a cultural practice in nonhuman primates, it must meet certain conditions. Multiple members of the community must practice the behavior, and it must vary between societies. Lastly, there also must be the potential for that same behavior of non-human primate culture in other societies.
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LIMITATION, TEACHING AND CUMULATIVE CULTURE IN PRIMATES
The first line of argument for a discrepancy between ape and human cultures concerns the nature of the underlying mechanisms of social learning. Human culture results from imitation and teaching. Non-human primate culture comes from ‘lower-level’ social learning, such as stimulus enhancement or emulation. The role of imitation in animal culture is more complex. It is not clear whether imitation plays any role in the transmission of behaviors or in maintaining traditions in nature. Social learning in primates does not include the aspect of cumulative culture. In addition, cumulative culture emerges from individuals’ abilities to combine existing culturally transmitted achievements. An example is the combined use of two different materials as one tool.
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CULTURAL PROCESSING AND A COGNITIVE APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF CULTURE
The characterization of non-human primate culture includes group-specific catalogs of behaviors. As for humans, the characterization is in the form of group-specific catalogs of norms and their practices. Ape and human cultures differ because humans can mentally represent behaviors. We can analyze different cultures and define ourselves in various cultures. Therefore, this cognitive process is absent in social learning in primates. The determination of ape behavior by previous experience, or knowledge, which can differ between communities. Finally,, different communities may vary in how they recognize and use the affordances of an identical tool.
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