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Cooperation and Communication in Great Apes

Cooperation and Communication in Great Apes

Chapter:
(p.305) 13 Cooperation and Communication in Great Apes
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Shona DuguidMatthias AllritzAfrica De Las HerasSuska NolteJosep Call
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0013

The experimental study of cooperation in nonhuman primates can be traced back to Crawford’s seminal work with captive chimpanzees in the 1930s and 1940s. He described how pairs of chimpanzees pull together a heavy box to obtain food, and even reported communicative acts between cooperating partners. Although multiple studies since then have documented pairs of individuals coordinating their actions to achieve a common goal, communicative exchanges between partners are not frequent and often failed to fix situations when coordination is failing. This chapter discusses whether this lack of communication is a methodological artifact or whether there is a deeper theoretical reason underlying this observation. This chapter opens with a review of the literature on experimental studies on cooperation, paying particular attention to the occurrence of communicative exchanges between partners. Second, the chapter describes three recent experiments using three different coordination tasks. This chapter stresses the importance of variation in experimental task design to better understand the motivational and cognitive processes underlying the interplay between cooperation and communication in the great apes.

Keywords:   communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration, loose string task, helping, prosocial behavior, gestures, tool transfer

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