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The Evolution of Cooperation in Dyads and in Groups: Comparing Chimpanzees and Bonobos in the Wild and in the Laboratory

The Evolution of Cooperation in Dyads and in Groups: Comparing Chimpanzees and Bonobos in the Wild and in the Laboratory

Chapter:
(p.330) 14 The Evolution of Cooperation in Dyads and in Groups: Comparing Chimpanzees and Bonobos in the Wild and in the Laboratory
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Shinya Yamamoto
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0014

Cooperation may be a human hallmark, but its evolutionary basis can be found in both chimpanzees and bonobos. This chapter discusses the evolution of cooperation by comparing data from chimpanzees and bonobos both in the wild and in captivity. Much research has previously focused on dyadic cooperation, such as sharing, helping, and reciprocity between two individuals. These studies have revealed that chimpanzees are reluctant to help proactively, even though they have the cognitive ability to understand others’ desires. Bonobos appear to be somewhat different from chimpanzees. They are more spontaneous, tolerant of others, and, like humans, better at collaborative activities. Such comparisons of dyadic cooperation between chimpanzees and bonobos may lead to the hypothesis that cooperative society has evolved primarily in stable environments with large food patches (i.e. “rich” environments) like those in which most bonobos inhabit. However, in the context of group cooperation, wherein chimpanzees sometimes outperform bonobos, a different perspective may lead to the hypothesis that group cooperation evolved predominantly in “poor” environments where animals had to collaborate in groups to find resources and to protect themselves against out-group threats.

Keywords:   cooperation, chimpanzees, helping, sharing, tolerance, bonobos, comparative research, field research

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