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Development of social learning and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Congo

Salali, GD; Chaudhary, N; Bouer, J; Thompson, J; Vinicius, L; Migliano, AB; (2019) Development of social learning and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Congo. Scientific Reports , 9 , Article 11080. 10.1038/s41598-019-47515-8. Green open access

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High-fidelity transmission of information through imitation and teaching has been proposed as necessary for cumulative cultural evolution. Yet, it is unclear when and for which knowledge domains children employ different social learning processes. This paper explores the development of social learning processes and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherer children by analysing video recordings and time budgets of children from early infancy to adolescence. From infancy to early childhood, hunter-gatherer children learn mainly by imitating and observing others' activities. From early childhood, learning occurs mainly in playgroups and through practice. Throughout childhood boys engage in play more often than girls whereas girls start foraging wild plants from early childhood and spend more time in domestic activities and childcare. Sex differences in play reflect the emergence of sexual division of labour and the play-work transition occurring earlier for girls. Consistent with theoretical models, teaching occurs for skills/knowledge that cannot be transmitted with high fidelity through other social learning processes such as the acquisition of abstract information e.g. social norms. Whereas, observational and imitative learning occur for the transmission of visually transparent skills such as tool use, foraging, and cooking. These results suggest that coevolutionary relationships between human sociality, language and teaching have likely been fundamental in the emergence of human cumulative culture.

Type: Article
Title: Development of social learning and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Congo
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-47515-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47515-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/.
Keywords: Behavioural ecology, Biological anthropology, Cultural evolution, Human behaviour
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079380
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