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Chimpanzees' flexible targeted helping based on an understanding of conspecifics' goals

Yamamoto, Shinya, Humle, Tatyana, Tanaka, Masayuki (2012) Chimpanzees' flexible targeted helping based on an understanding of conspecifics' goals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (9). pp. 3588-3592. ISSN 0027-8424. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1108517109) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:38024)

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Humans extensively help others altruistically, which plays an important role in maintaining cooperative societies. Although some nonhuman animals are also capable of helping others altruistically, humans are considered unique in our voluntary helping and our variety of helping behaviors. Many still believe that this is because only humans can understand others' goals due to our unique "theory of mind" abilities, especially shared intentionality. However, we know little of the cognitive mechanisms underlying helping in nonhuman animals, especially if and how they understand others' goals. The present study provides the empirical evidence for flexible targeted helping depending on conspecifics' needs in chimpanzees. The subjects of this study selected an appropriate tool from a random set of seven objects to transfer to a conspecific partner confronted with differing tooluse situations, indicating that they understood what their partner needed. This targeted helping, (i.e., selecting the appropriate tool to transfer), was observed only when the helpers could visually assess their partner's situation. If visual access was obstructed, the chimpanzees still tried to help their partner upon request, but failed to select and donate the appropriate tool needed by their partner. These results suggest that the limitation in chimpanzees' voluntary helping is not necessarily due to failure in understanding others' goals. Chimpanzees can understand conspecifics' goals and demonstrate cognitively advanced targeted helping as long as they are able to visually evaluate their conspecifics' predicament. However, they will seldom help others without direct request for help.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1073/pnas.1108517109
Uncontrolled keywords: Altruism, Behavioral flexibility, Empathy, Instrumental helping, Prosocial behavior, animal behavior, animal experiment, article, chimpanzee, cognition, comprehension, controlled study, cooperation, female, motivation, nonhuman, priority journal, social behavior, tool use, Altruism, Animals, Comprehension, Empathy, Female, Goals, Helping Behavior, Learning, Male, Pan troglodytes, Theory of Mind, Tool Use Behavior, Vision, Ocular, Animalia, Pan
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Tatyana Humle
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2014 10:45 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 12:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Humle, Tatyana:
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