Navigation Links
Chimpanzees are rational, not conformists
Date:12/13/2013

Chimpanzees are sensitive to social influences but they maintain their own strategy to solve a problem rather than conform to what the majority of group members are doing. However, chimpanzees do change their strategy when they can obtain greater rewards, MPI researchers found.

Chimpanzees are known for their curious nature. They show a rich palette of learning behaviour, both individually and socially. But they are also rather hesitant to abandon their personal preferences, even when that familiar behaviour becomes extremely ineffective. Under which circumstances would chimpanzees flexibly adjust their behaviour? Edwin van Leeuwen and colleagues from the MPI's for Psycholinguistics and Evolutionary Anthropology conducted a series of experiments in Germany and Zambia to answer this question.

The researchers studied 16 captive chimpanzees at the Wolfgang Kohler Primate Research Center in Germany (Leipzig) and 12 semi-wild chimpanzees at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust, a sanctuary that houses more than a hundred chimpanzees under nearly natural conditions in the north-western part of Zambia. Chimpanzees were trained on two different vending machines. A minority of the group was made familiar with one machine and the majority of group members with the other machine. Wooden balls were thrown into their enclosure; the chimpanzees could insert these balls into the machines to receive one peanut for each ball.

Van Leeuwen and his colleagues first aimed to replicate previous research and looked whether the chimpanzees in the minority group would change their behaviour toward using the vending machine that the majority of group members used. However, neither the German nor the Zambian chimpanzees gave up their strategy to join the majority. In the second study, the profitability of the vending machines was changed so that the vending machine that the minority used became more profitable, now spitting out five rewards for every ball inserted. Over time, the majority chimpanzees observed that the minority chimpanzees received more peanuts for the same effort and all but one gradually switched to using this more profitable machine.

"Where chimpanzees do not readily change their behaviour under majority influences, they do change their behaviour when they can maximise their payoffs," Van Leeuwen says. "We conclude that chimpanzees may prefer persevering in successful and familiar strategies over adopting the equally effective strategy of the majority, but that chimpanzees find sufficient incentive in changing their behaviour when they can obtain higher rewards somewhere else." "So, it's peanuts over popularity" he jokingly adds.

The researchers emphasise that these results may be dependent upon the specific trade-offs that were created by the experimental design and that chimpanzees could act differently under the pressures of life in the wild. Van Leeuwen: "Conformity could still be a process guiding chimpanzees' behaviour. Chimpanzee females, for instance, disperse to other groups in the wild. For these females, it is of vital importance to integrate into the new group. Conformity to local (foraging) customs might help them to achieve this integration."


'/>"/>

Contact: Edwin van Leeuwen
Edwin.vanLeeuwen@mpi.nl
31-243-521-184
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Long-term memory helps chimpanzees in their search for food
2. Chimpanzees have 5 universal personality dimensions
3. Origins of human teamwork found in chimpanzees
4. UCSB anthropologist studies reciprocity among chimpanzees and bonobos
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Chimpanzees are rational, not conformists
(Date:11/17/2016)... , Nov. 17, 2016 Global Market Watch: ... Biobanks (Disease-Based Banks, Population-Based Banks and Academics) market is to ... for Private Biobanks shows the highest Compounded Annual Growth Rate ... region during the analysis period 2014-2020. North ... of 9.95% followed by Europe at ...
(Date:11/14/2016)...  xG Technology, Inc. ("xG" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: ... for use in challenging operating environments, announced its results ... will hold a conference call to discuss these results ... (details below). Key Recent Accomplishments ... agreement to acquire Vislink Communication Systems. The purchase is ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security ... solutions for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for ... (CBP), explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to ... United States , in order to deter visa ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... , ... November 30, 2016 , ... ... moving magnet Voice Coil Actuator with a flexure design that ensures high alignment ... with cost-effective pricing and is ideally suited where extreme precision is required, such ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016  The Allen Institute for Cell ... first publicly available collection of gene edited, fluorescently ... key cellular structures with unprecedented clarity. Distributed through ... tools are a crucial first step toward visualizing ... what makes human cells healthy and what goes ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... November 30, 2016 Part of 5m$ ... ... Aptuit, LLC today announced that it had successfully ... 150,000 novel compounds have increased the Screening Collection to over ... hit discovery capabilities of the company. This expansion, complemented by ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , ... November 30, 2016 , ... On 28 November ... symbols for four elements: nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og), ... public review, the names earlier proposed by the discoverers have been approved by the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: