Friday, September 07, 2007

Whose has more social skills: a toddler or a chimp?

According to this article in Time, the toddler wins out.
But when it came to "social learning" tasks — such as understanding how to solve a problem by watching someone else do it, figuring out someone else's state of mind from their actions, or using nonverbal communication to explain or understand how to find something — the kids made monkeys of the apes. In one test, for example, researchers showed both groups how to open up a plastic tube to get at a treat. The children learned by watching, and opened it as the adults did. The apes tended to just chew the tube open. In another, researchers would hide the treat while the test subjects were present. Then the subjects would have to find it, with the only clue being that the scientists would look toward the hiding place. Again, the kids beat the apes soundly.

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