Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chimpanzees choose cooperation over competition

Video shows chimpanzee cooperation task. All chimpanzees must manipulate the handles at the same time in order for the food to be delivered. Video from Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

From Woodruff Health Sciences Center:

When given a choice between cooperating or competing, chimpanzees choose to cooperate five times more frequently, Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers have found. This, the researchers say, challenges the perceptions humans are unique in our ability to cooperate and chimpanzees are overly competitive, and suggests the roots of human cooperation are shared with other primates.

The study results are reported in this week’s early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To determine if chimpanzees possess the same ability humans have to overcome competition, the researchers set up a cooperative task that closely mimicked chimpanzee natural conditions, for example, providing the 11 great apes that voluntarily participated in this study with an open choice to select cooperation partners and giving them plenty of ways to compete. Working beside the chimpanzees’ grassy outdoor enclosure at the Yerkes Research Center Field Station, the researchers gave the great apes thousands of opportunities to pull cooperatively at an apparatus filled with rewards. In half of the test sessions, two chimpanzees needed to participate to succeed, and in the other half, three chimpanzees were needed.

While the set up provided ample opportunities for competition, aggression and freeloading, the chimpanzees overwhelmingly performed cooperative acts – 3,565 times across 94 hour-long test sessions.

Read more about the study.

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