No matter how much we try to resist, humans learn from movies and television. What we learn is another question, though I’ve certainly learned quite a bit from Julia Child and Top Chef. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones who learn from what we see in films — wild marmosets do too. Monkey see, monkey do, as they say.
University of Vienna researcher Tina Gunhold has been studying and conducting experimental research with a bunch of different animals, particularly when it comes to traditions and social learning. Studies such as the dog and wolf social learning project, which found that wolves are much better at learning from each other than dogs are, is precisely the kind of thing Gunhold is interested in. She also happens to run the University’s marmoset laboratory. Gunhold wondered whether wild marmosets would be affected by what they saw on the screen — in particular, by an instructional video featuring another marmoset liberating a treat from a device. She wondered whether the video could actually teach other marmosets how to get a treat from the same device.