Monday, August 24, 2009
Monkeys affiliate with humans who imitate them.
It is generally thought that imitation is one mechanism through which cultural learning occurs. When others mimic us, we like them more, empathize with them more, and are more helpful and generous toward them. Recent work with capuchin monkeys suggests that imitation may of general importance in enhancing prosocial social behaviors, suggesting that the social consequences of mimicry may have deeper evolutionary roots than previously thought. Paukner et al. find that these animals behave in a more affiliative manner, as assessed by direction of gaze, physical proximity, and token exchange, toward humans who imitate them as compared to humans who perform the same movements, but not at the same time.