Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Lydia M Hopper
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1876-1


Emulation is a form of social learning in which an observer achieves the same goal as an expert they observe, but do not copy the bodily actions of the demonstrator, as when imitating.


Wood (1989) provided an early definition of emulation learning when he noted that “…children not only attempt to impersonate others by imitating their actions but also try to emulate them by achieving similar ends or objectives” (p.71). Following Wood’s original description, emulation has become to be considered to encompass more meanings. For example, Byrne (1998) proposed that, in addition to Wood’s “goal directed” sense of emulation, it could also include learning the physical properties of objects; learning relationships among objects; and learning what can be done with an object. Specifically, he noted that “having seen a change of state effected, the observer knows more about the physical nature of an object: that nuts crack, that rocks are heavy and hard, that fruit...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of ApesLincoln Park ZooChicagoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Zanna Clay
    • 1
  1. 1.Durham UniversityDurhamUK