Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Jessica A. Mayhew

Second Committee Member

Lori K. Sheeran

Third Committee Member

Mary Radeke


Lemurs have been understudied in cognitive research despite possessing a unique phylogenetic position as the lineage linking primates to other mammals. I used a two-action paradigm apparatus to test social learning abilities in seven lemur species at the Duke Lemur Center. There were three groups: push (had model previously taught to push), pull (had model previously taught to pull), and control (no model). I conducted experimental trials to determine if lemurs in push/pull groups learned faster and more efficiently from the model than lemurs in control groups who lacked a model to observe. I found evidence of social facilitation in that lemurs in control groups had longer latencies to touch the apparatus than push/pull groups. I found evidence of observational learning in that the more successes an individual observed, the better its own proficiency rate was. The most watched lemurs were those with the highest proficiency rates, suggesting they were using a success bias. There were species differences in proficiency rate, latency to success, latency to touch the apparatus, and number of successes observed. These species differences are likely reflections of the different socioecological niches occupied by each of the species tested.