Children, but not chimpanzees, prefer to collaborate.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Human societies are built on collaborative activities. Already from early childhood, human children are skillful and proficient collaborators. They recognize when they need help in solving a problem and actively recruit collaborators [1, 2]. The societies of other primates are also to some degree cooperative. Chimpanzees, for example, engage in a variety of cooperative activities such as border patrols, group hunting, and intra- and intergroup coalitionary behavior [3-5]. Recent studies have shown that chimpanzees possess many of the cognitive prerequisites necessary for human-like collaboration. Chimpanzees have been shown to recognize when they need help in solving a problem and to actively recruit good over bad collaborators [6, 7]. However, cognitive abilities might not be all that differs between chimpanzees and humans when it comes to cooperation. Another factor might be the motivation to engage in a cooperative activity. Here, we hypothesized that a key difference between human and chimpanzee collaboration-and so potentially a key mechanism in the evolution of human cooperation-is a simple preference for collaborating (versus acting alone) to obtain food. Our results supported this hypothesis, finding that whereas children strongly prefer to work together with another to obtain food, chimpanzees show no such preference.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rekers, Y; Haun, DBM; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • October 13, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 20

Start / End Page

  • 1756 - 1758

PubMed ID

  • 22000101

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-0445

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0960-9822

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.066


  • eng