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Begging and social tolerance: Food solicitation tactics in young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the wild


Fröhlich, Marlen; Müller, Gudrun; Zeiträg, Claudia; Wittig, Roman M; Pika, Simone (2020). Begging and social tolerance: Food solicitation tactics in young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the wild. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41(2):126-135.

Abstract

The substantial role of food sharing in human evolution has been widely recognized, and food-soliciting tactics may have been critical in facilitating these transfers. Great apes, our closest living relatives, also use food-soliciting tactics to obtain food from both kin and non-kin. However, the individual and social factors involved in requests for and subsequent transfers of food have been relatively little studied. Here, we examined which tactics (e.g., tactile gestures, taking actions, and vocalizations) infant chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) employ to solicit food from their conspecifics as well as the success of obtaining food. Using a multimodal approach, we focused on food-related interactions of 14 chimpanzee infants of two different subspecies (P. t. schweinfurthii/verus) living in the communities of Kanyawara, Uganda, and Taï South, Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, we found that infants' solicitation tactics included mainly visual or tactile gestural requests and taking attempts, while vocalizations and gestures involving auditory components were rarely used. When addressing non-maternal conspecifics, infants used more visual gestures with age to solicit food. If food was solicited from mothers or maternal kin, infants predominantly begged for food via (mechanically effective) taking attempts. In terms of subsequent food transfers, taking attempts were more successful than gestures. In light of the prevalent use of non-contact begging despite low rates of success, food solicitation in young great apes might also function to facilitate social tolerance and gain social information. We thus conclude that the food sharing context might represent a critical platform to learn and practice social rules underlying cooperative interactions, which can later be generalized across collaborative domains.

Abstract

The substantial role of food sharing in human evolution has been widely recognized, and food-soliciting tactics may have been critical in facilitating these transfers. Great apes, our closest living relatives, also use food-soliciting tactics to obtain food from both kin and non-kin. However, the individual and social factors involved in requests for and subsequent transfers of food have been relatively little studied. Here, we examined which tactics (e.g., tactile gestures, taking actions, and vocalizations) infant chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) employ to solicit food from their conspecifics as well as the success of obtaining food. Using a multimodal approach, we focused on food-related interactions of 14 chimpanzee infants of two different subspecies (P. t. schweinfurthii/verus) living in the communities of Kanyawara, Uganda, and Taï South, Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, we found that infants' solicitation tactics included mainly visual or tactile gestural requests and taking attempts, while vocalizations and gestures involving auditory components were rarely used. When addressing non-maternal conspecifics, infants used more visual gestures with age to solicit food. If food was solicited from mothers or maternal kin, infants predominantly begged for food via (mechanically effective) taking attempts. In terms of subsequent food transfers, taking attempts were more successful than gestures. In light of the prevalent use of non-contact begging despite low rates of success, food solicitation in young great apes might also function to facilitate social tolerance and gain social information. We thus conclude that the food sharing context might represent a critical platform to learn and practice social rules underlying cooperative interactions, which can later be generalized across collaborative domains.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 March 2020
Deposited On:17 Dec 2019 14:39
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 21:48
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1090-5138
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2019.11.002
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID248784
  • : Project TitleCOMET - COntent Mediator architecture for content-aware nETworks

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