Apes and Behavioral Research

569 WordsJan 31, 20182 Pages
The term “ape” has been associated with imitation based on the behavioral research carried out on apes that has shown that apes are good imitators. Many primatologists who are against animal culture have argued that the learning of behaviors by apes is not a form of social transmission but rather simple imitation. De Waal seems to refute the scientific meaning of imitation which is defined by goals, rewards and punishments. I think de Waal makes a compelling argument for the complexity of imitations. He proposes three criteria for one to imitate which include; identification, understanding the goal and having background knowledge on the task. Imitations contain learning aspects within them. If they did not, human beings for example would be able to do any physical activity that they wanted to, which is not the case. De Waal makes also talks about a theory that some primatologists have come up with to explain why human-raised apes are better at imitating human behavior than wild apes. Enculturation implies that human-reared apes operate on a different mental plane because they have benefited from human culture simulation. This way of thinking is at the hallmark if speciesism. It implies that our form of culture helped the apes tap into a mental ability that they wouldn’t have if they were not raised by humans. While others see enculturation as a way to show that animals lack culture, de Waal proposes otherwise. He suggests that enculturation is a form of cultural learning in
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