The effects of culture on individual cognition have become a core issue among cultural primatologists. Field studies with wild populations provide evidence on the role of social cues in the ontogeny of tool use in non-human primates, and on the transmission of such behaviours over generations through socially biased learning. Recent experimental studies have shown that cultural knowledge may influence problem solving in wild populations of chimpanzees. Here, we present the results from a field experiment comparing the performance of bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) from two wild savannah populations with distinct toolkits in a probing task. Only the population that already exhibited the customary use of probing tools succeeded in solving the new problem, suggesting that their cultural repertoire shaped their approach to the new task. Moreover, only this population, which uses stone tools in a broader range of contexts, tried to use them to solve the problem. Social interactions can affect the formation of learning sets and they affect the performance of the monkeys in problem solving. We suggest that behavioural traditions affect the ways non-human primates solve novel foraging problems using tools.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3571158.
- Received July 15, 2016.
- Accepted October 25, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.