Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.


Conference Paper

Nicholas Humphrey's social intelligence hypothesis proposed that the major engine of primate cognitive evolution was social competition. Lev Vygotsky also emphasized the social dimension of intelligence, but he focused on human primates and cultural things such as collaboration, communication and teaching. A reasonable proposal is that primate cognition in general was driven mainly by social competition, but beyond that the unique aspects of human cognition were driven by, or even constituted by, social cooperation. In the present paper, we provide evidence for this Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis by comparing the social-cognitive skills of great apes with those of young human children in several domains of activity involving cooperation and communication with others. We argue, finally, that regular participation in cooperative, cultural interactions during ontogeny leads children to construct uniquely powerful forms of perspectival cognitive representation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Moll, H; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • April 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 362 / 1480

Start / End Page

  • 639 - 648

PubMed ID

  • 17296598

Pubmed Central ID

  • 17296598

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2970

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8436

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rstb.2006.2000