Advertisement

Innovation, Processes of Social Learning, and Modes of Cultural Transmission Among the Chabu Adolescent Forager-Farmers of Ethiopia

  • Bonnie L. Hewlett
Chapter
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)

Abstract

Based upon an earlier study of innovation and the transmission and acquisition of innovative skills and knowledge among Aka forager adolescents of central Africa, this study examines the same topic among Chabu adolescents of southwestern Ethiopia, a forager-farming society. Research with the Aka foragers questioned several evolutionary predictions about who should innovate and how innovations should be transmitted (i.e., adolescents, males in particular, should be more innovative than children and adults, innovations should spread by horizontal transmission, and adolescents should pay particular attention to prestigious, “successful” peers). In-depth and structured interviews, informal observations, and systematic ranking and sorting techniques with 14 Chabu adolescents and seven adults were utilized in this study. Major results in terms of the processes and modes of social learning suggest that: (1) oblique modes of transmission were exhibited with greater frequency than horizontal, while prestige bias was indirectly important and linked to reproductive efforts and (2) direct teaching was very important but not exclusively utilized as a means of transmitting social knowledge and reflective of the complexity of skills being taught. Additional results indicate that as with the Aka data, (3) cultural terms specific to innovation existed, (4) innovations and innovators were easily identified by adolescents, (5) innovators were actively sought out individuals who exhibited pro-social qualities and were “good teachers,” and (6) adults were more often identified by the adolescents to be innovators. One result was inconsistent with the Aka study: Chabu adult females were more likely to be identified as innovators than were adult males. As the Chabu women produce highly valued and desired pottery with innovative designs, which sell well at the local market, these data suggest that innovative gender bias is domain dependent.

Keywords

Adolescence Hunter-gatherers Social learning Innovation Cultural transmission Africa 

References

  1. Aoki K (2013) Determinants of cultural evolutionary rates. In: Akazawa T et al (eds) The dynamics of learning in Neanderthals and modern humans volume 1: cultural perspectives, replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans series. doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-545118_13
  2. Barton CM, Riel-Salvatore J, Anderies JM, Popescu G (2011) Modeling human ecodynamics and biocultural interactions in the Late Pleistocene of Western Eurasia. Hum Ecol 39:705–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biondi IM, Bo MS, Vassallo AI (2010) Inter-individual and age differences in the exploration, neophilia and problem solving ability in a Neotropical raptor (Milvago chimango). Anim Cogn 13:701–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boesch C (1995) Innovation in wild chimpanzees. Int J Primatol 16(1):1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boesch C (2003) Is culture a golden barrier between human and chimpanzee? Evol Anthropol 12:82–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boyd R, Richerson PJ (1985) Culture and the evolutionary process. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  7. Chudek M, Heller S, Birch S, Henrich J (2012) Prestige-biased cultural learning: bystander’s differential attention to potential models influences children’s learning. Evol Hum Behav 33(1):46–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cole EF, Quinn JL (2012) Personality and problem solving performance explain competitive ability in the wild. Proc R Soc B 279:1168–1175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Creanza N, Fogarty L, Feldman MW (2013) Exploring cultural Niche construction from the paleolithic to modern hunter-gatherers. In: Akazawa T et al (eds) Dynamics of learning in Neanderthals and modern humans, vol 1: cultural perspectives, replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans Series. doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-545118_13
  10. Csibra C, Gergely G (2009) Natural pedagogy. Trends Cogn Sci 13(4):148–153. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.005. Epub Mar 13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Csibra C, Gergely G (2011) Natural pedagogy as evolutionary adaptation. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 366:1149–1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dean GL, Hoppitt W, Laland KN, Kendall RL (2011) Sex ratio affects sex-specific innovation and learning in captive ruffled lemurs (Varecia variegata and Varecia rubra). Am J Primatol 73:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeBoer W (1990) Interaction, imitation, and communication as expressed in style: the Ucayali experience. In: Conkey M, Hastorf C (eds) The uses of style in archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 82–104Google Scholar
  14. Diamond J (1999) Guns, germs, and steel. W.W. Norton and Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Dijksterhuis A (2005) Why we are social animals: the high road to imitation as social glue. In: Hurley S, Chater N (eds) Perspectives on imitation: from neuroscience to social science, vol. 2, imitation, human development, and culture. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 207–220Google Scholar
  16. Enquist M, Strimling P, Eriksson K, Laland K, Sjostrand J (2010) One cultural parent makes no culture. Anim Behav 79:1353–1362. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.03.009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Enquist M, Ghirlanda S, Eriksson K (2011) Modelling the evolution and diversity of cumulative culture. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 366:412–423. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fogarty L, Strimling P, Leland KN (2011) The evolution of teaching. Evolution 65:2760–2770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Galef B Jr (1992) The question of animal culture. Hum Nat 3:157–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gergely G, Csibra G (2006) Sylvia’s recipe: the role of imitation and pedagogy in the transmission of human culture. In: Enfield NJ, Levinson SC (eds) Roots of human sociality: culture, cognition, and human interaction. Berg, Oxford, pp 229–255Google Scholar
  21. Gergely B, Egyed K, Kiraly I (2007) On pedagogy. Dev Sci 10:139–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gintis H, Bowles S, Boyd R, Fehr E (2003) Explaining altruistic behavior in humans. Evol Hum Behav 24:153–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gladwell M (2013) Complexity and the ten-thousand-hour rule. The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 Jun 2014 from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/08/psychology-ten-thousand-hour-rule-complexity.html
  24. Goodall J (1986) The chimpanzees of Gombe. Belknap, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Gordan R (2005) Ethnologue, languages of the world, 15th edn, published in 1951. SIL International, DallasGoogle Scholar
  26. Gosselain OP (1998) Social and technical identity in a clay crystal ball. In: Stark M (ed) The archaeology of social boundaries. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, pp 78–106Google Scholar
  27. Greenfield PM (1984) A theory of the teacher in the learning activities of everyday life. In: Rogoff B, Lave J (eds) Everyday cognition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 117–138Google Scholar
  28. Henrich J (2001) Cultural transmission and the diffusion of innovations: adoption dynamics indicate that biased cultural transmission is the predominate force in behavioral. Am Anthropol New Ser 103(4):992–1013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Henrich J (2004) Demography and cultural evolution: why adaptive cultural processes produced maladaptive losses in Tasmania. Am Antiq 69:197–221. doi: 10.2307/4128416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Henrich J (2010) The evolution of innovation enhancing institutions. In: O’Brien M, Shennan SJ (eds) Innovations in cultural systems contributions from evolutionary anthropology. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 99–120Google Scholar
  31. Henrich J, Gil-White FJ (2001) The evolution of prestige: freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evol Hum Behav 22:165–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Henrich J, Boyd R, Bowles SC, Fehr E, McElreath R, Barr A, Smith N, Henrich N, Hill K, Gil-White F, Gurven M, Marlowe F, Patton J, Tracer D (2005) ‘Economic man’ in cross-cultural perspective: behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies. Behav Brain Sci 28(6):795–855Google Scholar
  33. Hewlett BS (1992) Intimate fathers: the nature and context of Aka Pygmy paternal infant care. University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  34. Hewlett BL (2012) Listen, here is a story: ethnographic life narratives from Aka and Ngandu women of the Congo Basin. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  35. Hewlett BL (2013) “Ekeloko” the spirit to create: innovation and social learning among Aka adolescents of the central African rainforest. In: Akazawa et al (eds) Dynamics of learning in Neanderthals and modern humans, vol 1: cultural perspectives, replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans series. doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-545118_13
  36. Hewlett BS, Cavalli-Sforza LL (1986) Cultural transmission among Aka pygmies. Am Anthropol 88:922–934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hewlett BS, van de Koppel JMH, van de Koppel M (1986) Causes of death among Aka pygmies of the Central African Republic. In: Cavalli-Sforza LL (ed) African Pygmies. Academic, New York, pp 15–32Google Scholar
  38. Hewlett BS, Fouts H, Boyette A, Hewlett BL (2011) Social learning among Congo Basin hunter-gatherers. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 366:1168–1178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hewlett BS, Dira S, Berl R (2013) Initial findings of Chabu demographic data (unpublished)Google Scholar
  40. Hill K (2002) Altruistic cooperation during foraging by the ache, and the evolved human predisposition to cooperate. Hum Nat 13:105–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Inkeles A (2000) Measuring social capital and its consequences. Policy Sci 33:245–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kameda T, Nakanishi D (2002) Cost–benefit analysis of social/cultural learning in a nonstationary uncertain environment. Evol Hum Behav 23:373–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kaplan H, Hill K (1985) Food sharing among Ache foragers: tests of explanatory hypothesis. Curr Anthropol 26:223–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kaneko, M (2014) Variations in shape, local classification, and establishment of a chaîne opératoire for pot-making among woman potters in Southwestern Ethiopia. Paper presented at RNMH workshop for Springer A02 book, KyotoGoogle Scholar
  45. Katzir G (1982) Relationships between social structure and response to novelty in captive jackdaws, Corvus monedula, response to novel space. Behavior 81:231–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kleibeuker SW, Koolschijn PC MP, Jolles DD, De Dreu CKW, Crone EA (2013) The neural coding of creative idea generation across adolescence and early adulthood. Front Hum Neurosci 7:905. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kummer H, Goodall J (1985) Conditions of innovative behaviour in primates. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 308:203–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Laland KN, Reader SM (1999) Foraging innovation in the guppy. Anim Behav 57:331–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lalande K, Reader S (2010) Comparative perspectives on human innovation. In: O’Brien M, Shennan SJ (eds) Innovations in cultural systems contributions from evolutionary anthropology. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 37–52Google Scholar
  50. Lefebvre L, Reader SM, Sol D (2004) Brains, innovations and evolution in birds and primates. Brain Behav Evol 63:233–246. doi: 10.1159/000076784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lehmann L, Aoki K, Feldman MW (2011) On the number of independent cultural traits carried by individuals and populations. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 366:424–435. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lewis J (2015) Where goods are free but knowledge costs: hunter-gatherer ritual economics in western central Africa. Hunter Gatherer Res 1(1):1–27 (Online ISSN: 1476-4261)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lewis HM, Laland KN (2012) Transmission fidelity is the key to the build-up of cumulative culture. J R Anthropol Inst 367:2171–2180Google Scholar
  54. MacDonald DH, Hewlett BS (1999) Reproductive interests and forager mobility. Curr Anthropol 40:501–523Google Scholar
  55. Morand-Ferron J, Cole EF, Rawles JEC, Quinn JL (2011) Who are the innovators? A field experiment with 2 passerine species. Behav Ecol 22:1241–1248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nadel J, Gue’rini C, Peze’ A, Rivet C (1999) The evolving nature of imitation as a format for communication. In: Nadel J, Butterworth G (eds) Imitation in infancy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 209–234Google Scholar
  57. Nasir N (2005) Problem solving in technology-rich contexts: mathematics sense making in out-of-school environments. J Math Behav 24:275–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nielsen M (2012) Imitation, pretend play and childhood: essential elements in the evolution of human culture? J Comp Psychol 126:170–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nielsen M, Bennett G, Subiaul F, Zentall T (2012) Introduction social learning in humans and nonhuman animals: theoretical and empirical dissections. J Comp Psychol 126(2):109–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Nishida T (1987) Local traditions and cultural transmission. In: Smuts SS, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Wrangham RW, Strusaker TT (eds) Primate societies. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 462–474Google Scholar
  61. O’Brien M, Shennan SJ (2010) Innovations in cultural systems contributions from evolutionary anthropology. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  62. Over H, Carpenter M (2012) Putting the social into social learning: explaining both selectivity and fidelity in children’s copying behavior. J Comp Psychol 126:182–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Powell A, Shennan S, Thomas MG (2012) Demography and variation in the accumulation of culturally inherited skills. In: O’Brien M, Shennan SJ (eds) Innovations in cultural systems contributions from evolutionary anthropology. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 37–52Google Scholar
  64. Reader S, Laland K (2001) Primate innovation: sex, age and social rank differences. Int J Primatol 22(5):787–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Reader SM, Laland KN (2003) Animal innovation: an introduction. In: Reader SM, Laland KN (eds) Animal innovation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 3–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Roe P (1995) Style, society, myth, and structure. In: Carr C, Neitzel J (eds) Style, society and person: archaeological and ethnological perspectives. Plenum Press, New York, pp 27–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schnoebelen T (2009) (Un)classifying the Shabu (unpublished source from author’s web site). Accessed 20 May 2014Google Scholar
  68. Shennan S (2001) Demography and cultural innovation: a model and its implications for the emergence of modern human culture. Camb Archaeol J 11(1):5–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Shennan SJ, Steele J (1999) Cultural learning in hominids: a behavioural ecological approach. In: Box H, Gibson K (eds) Mammalian social learning: comparative and ecological perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 367–388Google Scholar
  70. Spikins P, Hitchens G, Needham A, Rutherford H (2014) The cradle of thought: growth, learning, play and attachment in Neanderthal children. Oxf J Archaeol 33:111–134. doi: 10.1111/ojoa.12030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tamnes CK, Ostby Y, Fjell AM, Westlye L, Due-Tonnessen P, Walhovd KB (2010) Brain maturation in adolescence and young adulthood: regional age-related changes in cortical thickness and white matter volume and microstructure. Cereb Cortex 20:534–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tennie C, Call J, Tomasello M (2009) Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture. Phil Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 364:2405–2415. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Thornton A, Samson J (2012) Innovative problem solving in wild meerkats. Anim Behav 83:1459–1468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tomasello M (1994) The question of chimpanzee culture. In: Wrangham R, McGrew W, de Waal F, Heltne P (eds) Chimpanzee cultures. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 301–317Google Scholar
  75. Tomasello M, Kruger A, Ratner H (1993) Cultural learning. Behav Brain Sci 16:450–488Google Scholar
  76. van Bergen Y (2004) An Investigation into the adaptive use of social and asocial information. Dissertation, University of CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/), which permits any noncommercial 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 chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter'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.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA

Personalised recommendations