Abstract # 131:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 09:30 AM-09:45 AM: Session 18 (Meeting Room 410) Oral Presentation


A. E. Parrish1,2 and S. F. Brosnan1,2,3
1Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA, 2Language Research Center, 3Neuroscience Institute

Humans are exceptional in both their willingness to and frequency with which they help one another; however, they are not alone in their prosocial tendencies. Nonhuman primates also exhibit cooperative behavior within their own social groups. Recently, many studies have examined whether prosocial behavior exists among nonhuman primates in an experimental setting. Unfortunately, many of these experimental studies have yielded conflicting results. Most studies are conducted with a heavy reliance on interacting with an experimenter, with token-mediated variables or in the direct context of food, a highly valued resource for all animal species. The current study examined prosocial behavior among capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) in a tool task to better understand the species-typical cooperative tendencies. We investigated whether capuchin monkeys would transfer a necessary tool to a partner in both a cooperative and an altruistic task. In both tasks, tool transfer was overwhelmingly active in nature rather than passive (cooperative task; z= -2.52, altruistic task; z=-2.04, ps < .05). Capuchins also paid attention to the necessary components of the situation, to varying degrees, passing the tool only when both a partner and the food were present. These data demonstrate that capuchins will actively transfer a tool to a partner in some circumstances and thus indicate that even active prosocial behavior is present in certain circumstances amongst primates other than humans and cooperative breeders.