Guinea baboons are strategic cooperators

Formaux, A., Sperber, D., Fagot, J., & Claidière, N. (2023) Guinea baboons are strategic cooperators. Science Advances, 9(43), eadi5282. doi:10.1126/sciadv.adi5282

Abstract: Humans are strategic cooperators; we make decisions on the basis of costs and benefits to maintain high levels of cooperation, and this is thought to have played a key role in human evolution. In comparison, monkeys and apes might lack the cognitive capacities necessary to develop flexible forms of cooperation. We show that Guinea baboons (Papio papio) can use direct reciprocity and partner choice to develop and maintain high levels of cooperation in a prosocial choice task. Our findings demonstrate that monkeys have the cognitive capacities to adjust their level of cooperation strategically using a combination of partner choice and partner control strategies. Such capacities were likely present in our common ancestor and would have provided the foundations for the evolution of typically human forms of cooperation.

Selective and contagious prosocial resource donation in capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees and humans

Claidière, N., Whiten, A., Mareno, M. C., Messer, E. J. E., Brosnan, S. F., Hopper, L. M., . . . McGuigan, N. (2015). Selective and contagious prosocial resource donation in capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees and humans. Scientific reports(5), 7631. doi: 10.1038/srep07631

Prosocial test for capuchins, chimpanzees and humans

Figure: Experimental setup with chimpanzees, capuchins and humans (adults and infants). Drawing from Jason Zampol.
Abstract: Prosocial acts benefitting others are widespread amongst humans. By contrast, chimpanzees have failed to demonstrate such a disposition in several studies, leading some authors to conclude that the forms of prosociality studied evolved in humans since our common ancestry. However, similar prosocial behavior has since been documented in other primates, such as capuchin monkeys. Here, applying the same methodology to humans, chimpanzees, and capuchins, we provide evidence that all three species will display prosocial behavior, but only in certain conditions. Fundamental forms of prosociality were age-dependent in children, conditional on self-beneficial resource distributions even at age seven, and conditional on social or resource configurations in chimpanzees and capuchins. We provide the first evidence that experience of conspecific companions’ prosocial behavior facilitates prosocial behavior in children and chimpanzees. Prosocial actions were manifested in all three species following rules of contingency that may reflect strategically adaptive responses.