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A Comparison of Cooperative Cognition in Corvids, Chimpanzees, and Other Animals

A Comparison of Cooperative Cognition in Corvids, Chimpanzees, and Other Animals

Chapter:
(p.368) 16 A Comparison of Cooperative Cognition in Corvids, Chimpanzees, and Other Animals
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Jorg J. M. MassenWouter A. A. SchaakeThomas Bugnyar
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0016

Over the last decade, comparative work on animal cooperative problem solving has gained considerable momentum. Specifically, several primates, social carnivores, elephants, and some parrots and corvids have now been shown to master the cooperative ‘loose-string’ paradigm in which two individuals must simultaneously pull a string to obtain rewards. However, results are inconsistent. While this variance is often interpreted as highlighting differences in cognitive skills between species, alternatively they may reflect differences in the procedure used or training and experience. This chapter presents a series of experiments that investigated the influence of experience with ravens, Corvus corax, that already spontaneously solved the loose-string paradigm, but originally failed knowledge probes. These studies examined whether, after gaining additional experience, birds understood the need of a partner and the need for coordination with that partner. The results revealed that, given sufficient experience, ravens managed to better coordinate their actions and successfully solve the paradigm. This chapter discusses these results in comparison with chimpanzees and other animals tested in similar paradigms and highlights the importance of methodological design for comparative research. This chapter concludes by proposing a more critical framework for the interpretation of results of cooperation experiments and their related knowledge probes.

Keywords:   ravens, social cognition, convergent evolution, experimental procedures, knowledge probes, experience, coordination

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