Chimpanzees help others with what they want; children help them with what they need.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Humans, including young children, are strongly motivated to help others, even paying a cost to do so. Humans' nearest primate relatives, great apes, are likewise motivated to help others, raising the question of whether the motivations of humans and apes are the same. Here we compared the underlying motivation to help in human children and chimpanzees. Both species understood the situation and helped a conspecific in a straightforward situation. However, when helpers knew that what the other was requesting would not actually help her, only children gave her what she needed instead of giving her what she requested. These results suggest that both chimpanzees and human children help others but the underlying motivation for why they help differs. In comparison to chimpanzees, young children help in a paternalistic manner. The evolutionary hypothesis is that uniquely human socio-ecologies based on interdependent cooperation gave rise to uniquely human prosocial motivations to help others paternalistically.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hepach, R; Benziad, L; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • May 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 3

Start / End Page

  • e12922 -

PubMed ID

  • 31710758

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-7687

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1363-755X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/desc.12922


  • eng