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      Potent social learning and conformity shape a wild primate's foraging decisions.

      Science (New York, N.Y.)
      Animals, Cercopithecus aethiops, physiology, Female, Food Preferences, psychology, Male, Social Conformity, Taste, Transfer (Psychology), Zea mays

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          Abstract

          Conformity to local behavioral norms reflects the pervading role of culture in human life. Laboratory experiments have begun to suggest a role for conformity in animal social learning, but evidence from the wild remains circumstantial. Here, we show experimentally that wild vervet monkeys will abandon personal foraging preferences in favor of group norms new to them. Groups first learned to avoid the bitter-tasting alternative of two foods. Presentations of these options untreated months later revealed that all new infants naïve to the foods adopted maternal preferences. Males who migrated between groups where the alternative food was eaten switched to the new local norm. Such powerful effects of social learning represent a more potent force than hitherto recognized in shaping group differences among wild animals.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          23620053
          10.1126/science.1232769

          Chemistry
          Animals,Cercopithecus aethiops,physiology,Female,Food Preferences,psychology,Male,Social Conformity,Taste,Transfer (Psychology),Zea mays

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