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Critically consider research studies relating to the role of social learning in the behaviour of non -human animals.

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Introduction

Critically consider research studies relating to the role of social learning in the behaviour of non -human animals. Kawai (1965) has reported social learning in snow monkeys. His study took the form of a naturalistic observation. And started as a study of social behaviour. Kawai enticed the snow monkeys onto the beach to observe their behaviour more easily, he did this using food. The monkeys learnt that they got food by going to the beach and so began to spend more time there. Over the years Kawai observed that Imo a two year old female monkey began to wash her sweet potatoes in the sea before eating them. She found that they tasted better and so did this all the time. Shortly after th9is other monkeys began to imitate the behaviour and do the same. ...read more.

Middle

Although the study does have some extraneous variables it is a good indication of the role social learning has in the behaviour in NHA's. It shows that animals imitate each other and learn this way, they socialise and pick up knew skills. A human example of this can be found in studies of anorexia and bulimia where young girls often diet to be as skinny as those around them, to conform to magazine images. They learn socially that to be skinny is good. It was found in Kawai's study that the young monkeys socialised a lot more and therefore learnt more socially than the older monkeys. This was reflected in the findings of the study which indicates that NHA's learn behaviour through imitating ie imitating and cultural transmission. ...read more.

Conclusion

Being an experiment it allowed them to get a cause- effect relationship as extraneous variables were kept as a minimum but it meant that the behaviour, whilst occurring in the "real" world was forced and unnatural.. The results show that the role of social learning did effect the behaviour of NHA's as three in the experimental condition learnt the behaviour from the tutor bird but only one in the control condition did. The situation though was forced and those in the experimental condition may have had the flash of inspiration which the four original birds did and ultimately the control bird did. This shows that the learning may be individual, based on trial and error rather than social. Also, though the birds used are related to tits the results may differ when actual tits were experimented on. Overall social learning plays quite a large part in behaviour of NHA's though it is hard to measure to what extent. ...read more.

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