Primate Social Cognition: Evidence from Primate Field Studies
The social complexity hypothesis proposes that primates evolved large brains in order to master the challenges posed by a complex society. The more complex a social group, the more information an individual needs to remember and compute in order to successfully maneuver its social environment, particularly since with increasing group size, the number of possible dyads to keep track of is increasing exponentially. Accumulating evidence from field studies indicates that primates indeed keep track of their own dominance, kin and affiliative relationships with other individuals as well as of relationships between third parties, which indicates the capacity for triadic awareness. Studies are beginning to unravel how monkeys put this knowledge to use for their own benefit, i.e., when choosing reliable partners in cooperative acts like coalition formation. Several mechanisms underlying this social knowledge are currently discussed, as it is not clear whether nonhuman primates indeed possess the computational capacities to remember social interactions of all dyads in their social group. Emotional bookkeeping has been proposed as a cognitively less demanding mechanism to at least keep track of one’s own interactions—an idea gaining support by recent neuroendocrinological evidence.
KeywordsSocial complexity hypothesis Primate field studies Social relationships Social bonds Coalition formation Triadic awareness Emotional bookkeeping Neurochemical pathways
I thank the editors, in particular Laura Di Paolo, for inviting me to contribute to this book. I also thank Susan Perry for very helpful comments on the manuscript.
- Arnold K, Aureli F (2007) Postconflict reconciliation. In: Campbell C et al (eds) Primates in perspective. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 592–608Google Scholar
- Byrne RW, Whiten A (1988) The machiavellian intelligence hypotheses: editorial. In: Byrne RW, Whiten A (eds) Machiavellian intelligence. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 1–9Google Scholar
- Harcourt AH (1988) Alliances in contest and social intelligence. In: Byrne RW, Whiten A (eds) Machiavellian intelligence: social expertise and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes, and humans. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 132–152Google Scholar
- Hinde RA (1983) Primate social relationships: an integrated approach. Blackwell Scientific, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Humphrey NK (1976) The social function of intellect. In: Bateson PPG, Hinde RA (eds) Growing points in ethology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 303–317Google Scholar
- MacLean EL, Hare B, Nunn C, Addessi E, Amici F, Anderson R, Aureli F, Baker J, Bania A, Barnard A, Boogert N, Brannon E, Bray E, Bray J, Brent LJN, Burkart J, Call J, Cantlon J, Cheke L, Clayton N, Delgado M, DiVincenti L, Fujita K, Herrmann E, Hiramatsu C, Jacobs L, Jordan K, Laude J, Leimgruber K, Messer E, Moura AdA, Ostojic L, Picard A, Platt ML, Plotnik JM, Range F, Reader SM, Reddy R, Sandel AA, Santos LR, Schumann K, Seed A, Sewall K, Shaw R, Slocombe KE, Su Y, Takimoto A, Tan J, Tao R, Van Schaik C, Viranyi Z, Visalberghi E, Wade J, Watanabe A, Widness J, Young J, Zentall T, Zhao Y (2014) The evolution of self-control. Proc Natl Acad Sci 111:E2140–E2148CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Olff M, Frijling JL, Kubzansky LD, Bradley B, Ellenbogen MA, Cardoso C, Bartz JA, Yee JR, van Zuiden M (2013) The role of oxytocin in social bonding, stress regulation and mental health: an update on the moderating effects of context and interindividual differences. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38:1883–1894CrossRefGoogle Scholar