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Animal ThinkingContemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition$
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Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.001.0001

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Cooperation in Nonhuman Primates

Cooperation in Nonhuman Primates

Function and Cognition

(p.239) 16 Cooperation in Nonhuman Primates
Animal Thinking

Dorothy L. Cheney

The MIT Press

It has long been hypothesized that the demands of establishing and maintaining social relationships in complex societies place strong selective pressures on cognition and intelligence. What has been less clear is whether these relationships, and the skills they require, confer any reproductive benefits, and whether such benefits vary across individuals. Over the last few years, much progress has been made in resolving some of these questions. There is now evidence from a variety of species that animals are motivated to establish close, long-term bonds with specific partners, and that these bonds enhance longevity and offspring survival. The cognitive and emotional mechanisms underlying cooperation, however, are still not understood. Most investigations with captive primates indicate that cooperation is seldom contingency-based; however, several experiments conducted under more natural conditions suggest that animals do take into account recent interactions when supporting others. Pairs with strong bonds have strongly reciprocal interactions over extended time periods. These results suggest that the apparent rarity of contingent cooperation in animals may not stem from cognitive constraints. Instead, animals may tolerate short-term inequities in favors given and received because most cooperation occurs among long-term reciprocating partners.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, cooperation, contingent cooperation, animal cognition, animal intelligence, metacognition, personality

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