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Keywords:

  • chimpanzees;
  • Pan troglodytes;
  • video displays;
  • social learning;
  • video deficit

Video displays for behavioral research lend themselves particularly well to studies with chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), as their vision is comparable to humans’, yet there has been no formal test of the efficacy of video displays as a form of social information for chimpanzees. To address this, we compared the learning success of chimpanzees shown video footage of a conspecific compared to chimpanzees shown a live conspecific performing the same novel task. Footage of an unfamiliar chimpanzee operating a bidirectional apparatus was presented to 24 chimpanzees (12 males, 12 females), and their responses were compared to those of a further 12 chimpanzees given the same task but with no form of information. Secondly, we also compared the responses of the chimpanzees in the video display condition to responses of eight chimpanzees from a previously published study of ours, in which chimpanzees observed live models. Chimpanzees shown a video display were more successful than those in the control condition and showed comparable success to those that saw a live model. Regarding fine-grained copying (i.e. the direction that the door was pushed), only chimpanzees that observed a live model showed significant matching to the model's methods with their first response. Yet, when all the responses made by the chimpanzees were considered, comparable levels of matching were shown by chimpanzees in both the live and video conditions. Am. J. Primatol. 74:442-449, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.