Psychology 4102/5102
Social Learning Problem Set

Imagine the following evolutionary scenario. In an intelligent primate species, it takes an infant almost a year to mature sufficiently to be able to take care of itself. During that time, it is constantly cared for by its mother. The infant learns by imitating its mother and only its mother during that first year of life. After that year, the young offspring will not learn any other behaviors through imitation. Consequently, the infant must learn what foods to eat, what foods to avoid, what animals are dangerous etc. during this sensitive period.

As a consequence of this learning mechanism, there is a high correlation between mother and offspring for many different behavior patterns. For example, some mothers transmit the ability to ÏfishÓ for termites and ants using sticks while mothers who were not taught this during their sensitive period cannot transmit this ability.

A mutation occurs in a gene that effects the sensitive period. The mutation extends the sensitive period well into adulthood. As a result, the individual is able to imitate other adults and other youngsters in the troop after its first year of life.

In two pages, give a plausible evolutionary scenario for what might happen with this this new mutation. Make certain that you address the following points in your write up: