Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"Peer pressure"

A recent study shows evidence that 2-year-olds both humans and chimpanzees are more likely to copy actions when they see them repeated by three of their peers than if they see the same action done by one peer three times.

The research team built a box with three holes, each a different color. The box delivered a treat (a sweet) only when a ball was dropped into one of those three, colored holes. Toddlers, and chimpanzees, unfamiliar with the box were then allowed to watch as four of their same-species peers interacted with the box. The majority of those peer demonstrators had been trained to favor one color over the others.

When the 2-year-old humans and chimpanzee observers got their turn, they tended to favor the hole favored by their friends.

The researchers suggest that majority rule probably does have its advantages, evolutionarily speaking. "The tendency to acquire the behaviors of the majority has been posited as key to the transmission of relatively safe, reliable, and productive behavioral strategies,".

(Published in "Current Biology" 22, 1–5, April 24, 2012 by Daniel B.M. Haun, Yvonne Rekers, and Michael Tomasello)

This study gives some evolutionary support to the current observation of how difficult is to think and act outside the accepted behavior and mentality of society, and gives evolutionary support for the solidity, and in some instances advantage, of human conditioning........

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