Skip to main content


First ethnographic research done on the Shabu in Ethiopia

Trainee Achievements

First ethnographic research done on the Shabu in Ethiopia

In collaboration with IPEM Faculty member Barry S. Hewlett, IPEM trainee Ricky Berl has performed research on the Shabu hunter-gatherers of southwestern Ethiopia, the first ethnographic research done on these linguistically and genetically isolated people. He also conducted behavioral observations and social learning experiments on gray wolves in captivity and in the wild. Captive wolves show a well-defined hierarchical dominance structure, preferential association between kin, awareness of third-party relationships, a propensity for social learning by younger individuals and neophobia by older ones. He has also collaborated with Dr. Hewlett on over-imitation in the Aka and Ngandu of the Central African Republic. Over-imitation is the propensity for young children to faithfully replicate a sequence of actions to obtain a reward, even when some of those actions are clearly irrelevant to the task. Aka children over-imitate much less than do western or Ngandu children.