No third-party punishment in chimpanzees.


Journal Article

Punishment can help maintain cooperation by deterring free-riding and cheating. Of particular importance in large-scale human societies is third-party punishment in which individuals punish a transgressor or norm violator even when they themselves are not affected. Nonhuman primates and other animals aggress against conspecifics with some regularity, but it is unclear whether this is ever aimed at punishing others for noncooperation, and whether third-party punishment occurs at all. Here we report an experimental study in which one of humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), could punish an individual who stole food. Dominants retaliated when their own food was stolen, but they did not punish when the food of third-parties was stolen, even when the victim was related to them. Third-party punishment as a means of enforcing cooperation, as humans do, might therefore be a derived trait in the human lineage.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Riedl, K; Jensen, K; Call, J; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • September 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 109 / 37

Start / End Page

  • 14824 - 14829

PubMed ID

  • 22927412

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22927412

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.1203179109


  • eng