WASHINGTON - Humans are not the only ones who recognise imitation as the sincerest form of flattery - monkeys too have a thing for those who ape their behaviour, a new study has found.
The research, by a team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health and two Italian research institutions, found that capuchin monkeys preferred the company of researchers who imitated them to that of researchers who did not imitate them.
The monkeys not only spent more time with their imitators, but also preferred to engage in a simple task with them even when provided with the option of performing the same task with a non-imitator, the study found.
“Researchers have known that human beings prefer the behavior of other people who subtly imitate their gestures and other affects,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where the NIH portion of the study was conducted.
“Observing how imitation promotes bonding in primates may lead to insights in disorders in which imitation and bonding is impaired, such as certain forms of autism,” the expert added.
The study appears in the Aug.14 issue of Science.
The study was conducted by Annika Paukner and Stephen J. Suomi of the NICHD, Elisabetta Visalberghi of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council in Rome, and Pier F. Ferrari of the University of Parma. (ANI)