Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Innate and Learned Tool Use

  • Ivo Jacobs
  • Mathias Osvath
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3154-1


Innate tool use normally means that it is a highly heritable evolved adaptation, found in at least one age-sex class, or not learned.


The concept of innateness is surrounded by controversy. Some claim it is a meaningful notion, while others argue it has no explanatory power. Innateness is commonly pitted against learning, but definitions vary widely. There are at least nine different meanings of innate: “present at birth or particular stage of development; not learned; genetic – highly heritable; adapted during evolution; develops before function is established; shared by all members of species/sex/age group; a functional behavioral system; controlled by a specialized neural module; and developmentally robust – well-canalized” (Bateson and Curley 2013). For the sake of clarity, it is therefore more appropriate to talk about specific meanings than innateness in general.

Tool use in nonhuman animals has often been described as either innate or learned, but a...


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Salmon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of RedlandsRedlandsUSA