Spontaneous social tool use in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
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Although there is good evidence that social animals show elaborate cognitive skills to deal with others, there are few reports of animals physically using social agents and their respective responses as means to an end—social tool use. In this case study, we investigated spontaneous and repeated social tool use behavior in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We presented a group of chimpanzees with an apparatus, in which pushing two buttons would release juice from a distantly located fountain. Consequently, any one individual could only either push the buttons or drink from the fountain but never push and drink simultaneously. In this scenario, an adult male attempted to retrieve three other individuals and push them toward the buttons that, if pressed, released juice from the fountain. With this strategy, the social tool user increased his juice intake 10-fold. Interestingly, the strategy was stable over time, which was possibly enabled by playing with the social tools. With over 100 instances, we provide the biggest data set on social tool use recorded among nonhuman animals so far. The repeated use of other individuals as social tools may represent a complex social skill linked to Machiavellian intelligence.
Schweinfurth , M K , Detroy , S E , Van Leeuwen , E J C , Call , J & Haun , D B M 2018 , ' Spontaneous social tool use in chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes ) ' Journal of Comparative Psychology , vol. 132 , no. 4 , pp. 455-463 . https://doi.org/10.1037/com0000127
Journal of Comparative Psychology
Copyright © 2018 American Psychological Association. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1037/com0000127
DescriptionThis research was supported by the European Research Council (Synergy Grant 609819 SOMICS to Josep Call). Manon K. Schweinfurth was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant P2BEP3 175269).
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