On the Problem of Social Determination of Tool Behavior of Higher Animals: Structure and Features of "Social Contexts”

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Abstract

The article provides a review and critical analysis of recent primate wild population research revealing the significance of social interactions ("social contexts") for the development and maintenance of tool behavior in animals from the perspective of the Vygotsky — Leontiev school. As social contexts, we consider the role of "skilled" group members, primarily maternal individuals, as well as artifacts of animal tool activity. We argue that these new data don’t contradict the main statements of cultural and activity psychology regarding the fundamental differences between the psychological mechanisms underlying the process of social determination of animal and humans tool activity: namely, "skilled" animals, unlike humans, do not teach or encourage intentionally the attempts of naive individuals to develop tool actions, nor form their specific ways of handling tools; young primates do not seek help and support in acquiring and performing these actions. In addition, artifacts are perceived by animals primarily as preferred objects that have certain physical characteristics, for example, for extracting food, in contrast to human children, who adopt socially accepted techniques for handling them.

General Information

Keywords: tool behavior of animals, culture, social learning, artifacts, ontogenetic niche, cultural and activity psychology

Journal rubric: Discussions and Discourses

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/chp.2021170412

Funding. Elena E. Sokolova’s work on this article is supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant no. 20‑18-00028.

Received: 02.11.2021

Accepted:

For citation: Fedorovich E.Y., Sokolova E.E. On the Problem of Social Determination of Tool Behavior of Higher Animals: Structure and Features of "Social Contexts”. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 107–116. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170412. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

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Information About the Authors

Elena Y. Fedorovich, PhD in Psychology, Researcher, Institute for Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6596-1262, e-mail: labzoo_fedorovich@mail.ru

Elena E. Sokolova, Doctor of Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of General Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2239-0858, e-mail: ees-msu@mail.ru

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