How chimpanzees solve collective action problems.
We presented small groups of chimpanzees with two collective action situations, in which action was necessary for reward but there was a disincentive for individuals to act owing to the possibility of free-riding on the efforts of others. We found that in simpler scenarios (experiment 1) in which group size was small, there was a positive relationship between rank and action with more dominant individuals volunteering to act more often, particularly when the reward was less dispersed. Social tolerance also seemed to mediate action whereby higher tolerance levels within a group resulted in individuals of lower ranks sometimes acting and appropriating more of the reward. In more complex scenarios, when group size was larger and cooperation was necessary (experiment 2), overcoming the problem was more challenging. There was highly significant variability in the action rates of different individuals as well as between dyads, suggesting success was more greatly influenced by the individual personalities and personal relationships present in the group.
Schneider, A-C; Melis, AP; Tomasello, M
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