Thursday, July 4, 2019

Plant avoidance behaviors in Shuar infants and toddlers (Amazonians in southeastern Ecuador)

Plant avoidance behaviors in Shuar infants and toddlers. Annie E. Wertz, Alejandro S. Erut, Andrew Marcus Smith, Claudia Elsner, H. Clark Barrett. Human Behavior and Evolution Society 31st annual meeting. Boston 2019.

Abstract: Recent research shows that 8- to 18-month-old infants from the US and Germany are reluctant to touch plants and look more frequently toward adults before touching plants, a behavioral avoidance strategy that would mitigate plant dangers. Here we test Shuar infants and toddlers to examine whether infants growing up with substantial exposure to plants exhibit similar avoidance behaviors. The Shuar are an indigenous Amazonian society in southeastern Ecuador. Infants and toddlers (7- to 36month-olds; N=52) from four small rural Shuar villages were tested. The stimuli were real plants, artificial plants, feature-matched novel artifacts, familiar artifacts, and naturally occurring objects. An experimenter placed each stimulus object in front of the infant for 10 seconds; infants’ touch behavior and looking behavior were coded. The results showed that Shuar infants, like infants from the US and Germany, took longer to touch plants (real and artificial) compared to familiar artifacts and stones. However, unlike US and German infants, Shuar infants were as reluctant to touch novel artifacts as plants, and exhibited similar amounts of social looking across all object types. These results suggest informative similarities and differences between the Shuar and infants from the US and Germany.

Check also How Plants Shape the Mind. Annie E. Wertz. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, June 1 2019,

And And The seeds of social learning: Infants exhibit more social looking for plants than other object types. Claudia E lsner, Annie E.Wertz. Cognition, Volume 183, February 2019, Pages 244-255.

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