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Other-regarding preferences in a non-human primate: common marmosets provision food altruistically


Burkart, J M; Fehr, Ernst; Efferson, C; van Schaik, C P (2007). Other-regarding preferences in a non-human primate: common marmosets provision food altruistically. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 104(50):19762-19766.

Abstract

Human cooperation is unparalleled in the animal world and rests on an altruistic concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated strangers. The evolutionary roots of human altruism, however, remain poorly understood. Recent evidence suggests a discontinuity between humans and other primates because individual chimpanzees do not spontaneously
provide food to other group members, indicating a lack of concern for their welfare. Here, we demonstrate that common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) do spontaneously
provide food to non-reciprocating and genetically unrelated individuals, indicating that other-regarding preferences are not unique to humans and that their evolution did not
require advanced cognitive abilities such as theory of mind. Because humans and marmosets are cooperative breeders and the only two primate taxa in which such unsolicited prosociality has been found, we conclude that these prosocial predispositions may emanate from cooperative breeding.

Human cooperation is unparalleled in the animal world and rests on an altruistic concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated strangers. The evolutionary roots of human altruism, however, remain poorly understood. Recent evidence suggests a discontinuity between humans and other primates because individual chimpanzees do not spontaneously
provide food to other group members, indicating a lack of concern for their welfare. Here, we demonstrate that common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) do spontaneously
provide food to non-reciprocating and genetically unrelated individuals, indicating that other-regarding preferences are not unique to humans and that their evolution did not
require advanced cognitive abilities such as theory of mind. Because humans and marmosets are cooperative breeders and the only two primate taxa in which such unsolicited prosociality has been found, we conclude that these prosocial predispositions may emanate from cooperative breeding.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:December 2007
Deposited On:19 Mar 2009 15:54
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
Additional Information:Copyright: National Academy of Sciences USA
Publisher DOI:10.1073/pnas.0710310104
PubMed ID:18077409
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3835

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