Social Knowledge in Free-ranging Primates

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Abstract

Assessing an animal’s knowledge requires that the researcher knows the animal’s goals and means at least as well as the animal does. This is more difficult with regard to the animal’s knowledge about his social companions than about extra-specific objects. While social knowledge as evident in the natural habitat is in some cases accessible to simple experiments, social intelligence requires long-term laboratory studies. The field examples reported in this paper confirm that apparently simple behavior such as “hiding” or “not fighting” may involve more knowledge about others than complex interactions like “protected threat”; parsimonious behavior may result from unparsimonious internal processes.