What makes cultures so complex? In humans, culture is the accumulation of learned behaviors and attitudes. The process of learning and culture transmission varies between species, but there are certain common characteristics. Nonhuman primates usually imitate, while humans focus on the steps necessary to achieve a goal. Humans learn more rapidly and are more complex than other species, partly due to the fact that they often use explicit instruction, rather than relying on imitation. In addition, humans are more likely to insist on doing things the right way and rely on narrative instruction to enhance the transmission of culture.
People acquire culture by socializing and learning about a new way of life. This process is known as enculturation. As a result, different societies exhibit a wide range of different cultures. Different groups also learn from each other’s experiences, which is useful in assessing our own cultural practices. But, in general, culture is not an end in itself. People can learn a lot from the culture of others and apply it to their own way of life.
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The difference between human culture and chimpanzee culture can be confusing. Although both species exhibit many similar traits, the definition of culture in humans is still controversial. While there are many similarities between chimpanzees and humans, some scholars believe that chimpanzees and humans share the crucial mental ingredients of culture. This makes chimpanzee and human cultures analogous, rather than homologous.
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