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Chimpanzees’ bystander reactions to infanticide


Rudolf von Rohr, Claudia; van Schaik, Carel P; Kissling, Alexandra; Burkart, Judith M (2015). Chimpanzees’ bystander reactions to infanticide. Human Nature, 26(2):143-160.

Abstract

Social norms-generalized expectations about how others should behave in a given context-implicitly guide human social life. However, their existence becomes explicit when they are violated because norm violations provoke negative reactions, even from personally uninvolved bystanders. To explore the evolutionary origin of human social norms, we presented chimpanzees with videos depicting a putative norm violation: unfamiliar conspecifics engaging in infanticidal attacks on an infant chimpanzee. The chimpanzees looked far longer at infanticide scenes than at control videos showing nut cracking, hunting a colobus monkey, or displays and aggression among adult males. Furthermore, several alternative explanations for this looking pattern could be ruled out. However, infanticide scenes did not generally elicit higher arousal. We propose that chimpanzees as uninvolved bystanders may detect norm violations but may restrict emotional reactions to such situations to in-group contexts. We discuss the implications for the evolution of human morality.

Abstract

Social norms-generalized expectations about how others should behave in a given context-implicitly guide human social life. However, their existence becomes explicit when they are violated because norm violations provoke negative reactions, even from personally uninvolved bystanders. To explore the evolutionary origin of human social norms, we presented chimpanzees with videos depicting a putative norm violation: unfamiliar conspecifics engaging in infanticidal attacks on an infant chimpanzee. The chimpanzees looked far longer at infanticide scenes than at control videos showing nut cracking, hunting a colobus monkey, or displays and aggression among adult males. Furthermore, several alternative explanations for this looking pattern could be ruled out. However, infanticide scenes did not generally elicit higher arousal. We propose that chimpanzees as uninvolved bystanders may detect norm violations but may restrict emotional reactions to such situations to in-group contexts. We discuss the implications for the evolution of human morality.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Ethics
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Expectancy violation, Social expectations, Moral behavior, Evolutionary preconditions of morality, Social norms
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:13 Aug 2015 06:55
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:21
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1045-6767
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-015-9228-5
PubMed ID:26108616

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