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Koko the Gorilla - a Critical Thinking Exercise


Great spark to initiate a discussion on the definition of "culture" in a cultural psych course and whether animals have culture and transmit culture. Thank you.


Interesting point Ranjana. I never thought of the koko issue as a cultural one. But I see your point - assuming koko is capable of communicating in sign language in advanced ways, can she transmit culture to other apes....?

Valued Contributor

What neat teaching ideas! Great resources and engagement. 


In statistics you have to have a null hypothesis:

H0: the Gorilla is speaking


H0: The gorilla is mimicking without understanding


And then gather data to either support the null or disprove it.  This is a great example of getting data that lands somewhere in the middle, and whether it convinces you to change your mind is a measure of how much proof it would take for you to switch (your personal alpha level).  I love it.